Your electronic cig may be doing more than giving you pleasure. It is a digital device that hackers could have repurposed into a tool that can invade cyber security systems. You’re probably looking at your e-cig right now trying to figure out how they could possibly do this, right?
Well, that USB port that you use to charge your e-cig is a hacker’s entrance. Computer security experts have found that hackers are using these devices to attack computers by intruding with network traffic or making the e-cig see the vape a being a keyboard or a mouse.
With 20 lines (or less) of code, the computer can download an arbitrary file that is potentially dangerous and run it. Fortunately, e-cigs don’t have that much space to hose any such code. Most malware, such as “The WannaCry” malware, will use anywhere from 4 to 5MB of space, and an e-cig doesn’t have that much space in it.
Healthy For You But Not Your Computer
After searching all traditional means of malware entry, an executive’s computer was found to be the entry point. The executive had been using his laptop to charge up his e-cig that was made in China. The charger was hardcoded with the malware and when the executive plugged it into the USB port, the malware signaled home and the company’s entire system was infected.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened though. Malware on a production line has been around and infected MP3 players, digital photo frames, and more. One instance was in 2008, when a batch of Samsung digital phot frames had malware on the install disc.
The Bad USB Device
Just as much of a concern are the proof-of-concept attacks recently called “BadUSB”. USB devices are reprogrammed at the hardware level and the USB controller chips that are widely used, such as thumb drives, are not protected from this type of reprogramming.
What Can Be Done To Keep Info Safe?
The first step is to make sure your computer has a security patch installed and you have a strong password to lock it when you’re away. And instead of plugging your electronic cigarette into the USB port to charge it, use a standard outlet. Yes, that is one of the benefit features of e-cigs, but it is also a way to get to your computer. And most important, never allow your computer to be used for charging up anyone else’s devices, electronic cigarette or otherwise.
So, are we saying put away that electronic cigarette and go back to the traditional tobacco uses? Absolutely not! But, we are advising to use extreme caution before charging your vapor filled device on your computer whether its desktop or laptop.
But it doesn’t hurt to use this caution with anything you may plug into your USB port does it? Just as there are great minds creating wonderful things like e-cigs, there are just as great minds creating evil things like malware attacks and viruses.