E-cigarette users charging up through a USB port on a computer may want to be more cautious about plugging in.
The devices may be responsible for harming your computer when plugged in to charge, at least according to one report on the social news site Reddit.
One Reddit user said an executive at a large corporation had a malware infection on his computer from which the source could not be determined. The executive’s system in question was up to date with virus protection, so people helping him asked about change in habits.
“And that was the answer they were looking for, the made in china e-cigarette had malware hard coded into the charger and when plugged into a computer’s USB port the malware phoned home and infected the system,” he wrote.
The technology to transmit viruses and malware through a USB port exists, according to research done by the Security Research Labs firm in Germany, a security research firm and consulting think tank that released the code.
E-cigarettes are usually charged using a USB connection, whether that be with a special cable or by plugging the device directly into the computer.
“Ultimately any USB device that you can plug in can be reprogrammed to do malicious things to your computer,” Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder and chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, a cyber threat research firm, told the Washington Post.
Because a variety of devices plug into the same connector, one type of device could become malicious without the user noticing once reprogrammed, RSlabs said.
“Once infected, computers and their USB peripherals can never be trusted again,” the study said.
E-cigarette users may want to think twice about purchasing their cheap e-cigarettes from untrustworthy suppliers online.