According to one reddit user recently a works computer was infected with malware that came from an electronic cigarette.
The story takes place at a large corporation when the individual in question gets a nasty malware infection on his computer. The individuals computer was all patched up to the latest version, had antivirus running and in addition also had anti-malware protection – suffice to say they should have been well protected. Computer admins checked the web logs but all attempts to locate the source of the infection failed and after exhausting all the traditional means of infection, IT started to look to other possibilities. After various questioning it was discovered that the individual had quit smoking and had started to use a electronic cigarette.
The claims are that the e-cigarette that was made in China had malware hard coded into the charger and when it was plugged into the computer’s USB port the virus was transmitted.
To me this just sounds like a bit of a cover story. It won’t be long before this catches fire and we have senarios such as the following:
Officer: Excuse me Sir, please can you step out of your vehicle.
Driver: What have I done officer?
Officer: You were caught doing 60 mph in a 30 zone and you jumped several red lights
Driver: Oh that, yeah that wasn’t my fault. You see Officer, I have recently quit smoking and was charging my electronic cigarette in the car and…
Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying that such a device cannot be made to do something such as infect a computer, however there are just to many things that don’t add up including why a charger would even have data pins connected especially since this was a cheap one and this would increase manufacturing costs? Calls have been made for more information on the specific USB along with images which have so far not come to light. Also when you think of how many USB data sticks are sold on the cheap online from eBay and the likes, why wouldn’t we have heard more stories about malware transmissions this way? Surely this is a more viable and more likely way for such a thing to happen.
Even though this is technically possible the chances of this happening are very low. However if you feel you would like to take extra care then we have provided 3 ways in which you can better protect your computer.
1) Only Buy From Trusted Vendors
One of the best ways to make sure you don’t receive a dodgy product is by only buying from trusted vendors. Sure you might be able to get a e-cig and charger for $10 but spending that little bit more ensures you get a quality product you can rely on and trust.
2) Buy A USB Condom
Yes this is actually a thing!! USB condoms prevent accidental (or malicious) data exchange by cutting off the data pins in the USB cable. Power cables are unaffected so USB charging is still possible.
3) Disable Auto Run
To stop USB devices from running once plugged into your machine you can disable the Auto Run feature on your computer. This just provides you with increased control over what and what doesn’t run.