E-Cigarette Malware Could Damage Your Computer’s Health

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Chinese cybercriminals reportedly targeting ‘Vapers’ with malware spread through dodgy USB chargers

Touted as a “healthier” option for smokers, it seems that e-cigarettes could be doing more harm than their tobacco-filled cousins, following reports that the devices are being used to spread malware.

A post on Reddit over the weekend detailed how Chinese hackers were using chargers bundled with certain kinds of e-cigarettes to transfer malware onto a users’ computer. The cheap devices, ordered from sites such as eBay, connect to a PC via a USB cable to power up.

smoking ecigaretteSmoking gun

The post by user Jrockilla was posted on Reddit’s ‘Tales From Tech Support’ page, where IT employees share stories of the technical problems encountered by their co-workers under the headline “The boss has malware, again…”.

The Reddit user tells how an executive at his company, said, to be a “large corporation”, had been infected with malware from an undetermined source, which upon further investigation apparently stemmed from a $5 (£3.20) e-cigarette bought from the online auction site eBay.

This e-cigarette, which was made in China, had the malware hard coded into its charger, which became active and infected the system when plugged into a computer’s USB port.

“Moral of the story is have you ever question the legitimacy of the $5 dollar EBay made in China USB item that you just plugged into your computer? Because you should, you damn well should,” the user concluded.

Malware originating from China has become a growing problem as more and more of the country gets connected. Earlier this year, it was reported that Chinese cybercriminals are increasingly targeting mobile users as they develop ever more sophisticated hacking tools, with mobile malware kits available to buy from as little as 100 yuan (around £10) on the black market.

In June, it was also reported that the Android-based Star N9500 smartphone, built in China and shipped throughout the world, had shipped with malware pre-installed on its system.

The country’s cybercriminals have targeted a wide range of organisations around the world, most notably the New York Times and Tibetan activists, both of which came under attack earlier this year, the latter through an infected Android app.

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