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E-Cigarettes Used to Distribute Malware? Plausible, But Not Yet Confirmed

Several circulating reports are warning that e-cigarettes may be used to distribute malware to unsuspecting customers. The threat described is plausible although I have not yet seen any verified reports of actual malware infections via e-cigarettes.

Many e-cigarettes can be recharged by plugging them into your computer's USB port, either directly or via a cable supplied by the manufacturer. Thus, it is certainly possible that malware preloaded on the device could be clandestinely installed on your computer.

The original report came via a Reddit user who described a case in which a malware infection on a company executive's computer was finally traced to his Chinese made e-cigarette. The post notes:
They finally asked the Executive, “Have there been any changes in your life recently”? The executive answer “Well yes, I quit smoking two weeks ago and switched to e-cigarettes”. 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.
In the past, seemingly innocuous devices such as digital photo frames, MP3 players, and external hard drives have indeed been found to contain preinstalled malware. So, the claims in the report are plausible.

E-cigarette users would thus be wise to take heed of the warnings. That said, I have not yet seen any credible stories that actually confirm such malware infections.

Users can lessen the potential risk by buying the devices from respected and well-known brands.

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Last updated: November 24, 2014
First published: November 24, 2014
Curated by Brett M. Christensen
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