"Vape" was named Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year for 2014, but according to reports your newfound e-cig habit could hurt your computer.
E-cigarettes have become more popular, cited to be one of the main reasons behind 2014's word of the year, and while they might be better for users' lungs, the USB chargers may be hiding malware. New reports have surfaced claiming that e-cig chargers are the newest way for hackers to access your computer. Most e-cigs offer a basic USB charger that can be plugged in to a wall socket, car charger, or into the USB port on a computer or tablet. Hackers are taking advantage of this convenience, adding malware to the e-cig to gain access to users' devices. According to a Reddit user, an executive's computer was infected with malware and, after struggling to identify the source of the infection, the IT department concluded the malware came from an e-cigarette. "The made in China e-cigarette had malware hardcoded into the charger, and when plugged into a computer's USB port the malware phoned home and infected the system," wrote the Reddit user.
This malware is believed to be production line malware which has been around for some time. In 2008, similar malware was hidden on the install disc for a Samsung photo frame. Another malware issue that may be tied to the e-cig malware is "BadUSB" which requires hackers to reprogram USB devices on a hardware level. "Very widely spread USB controller chips, including those in thumb drives, have no protection from such reprogramming," said SRLabs. E-cig chargers may be similarly vulnerable. Users running the latest anti-malware software and using trusted devices should have little to worry about, according to security experts. To avoid this e-cig malware, users are urged to charge their devices using a wall outlet.
Photo: © Creative Commons - Flickr: Terry Ozon.