Technology today plays a greater role in our daily lives than ever before. Phones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, Fitbits, and other incredible technology have transformed our lives and given us near-limitless access to information. In exchange, many of these gadgets capture and retain a large amount of information about us.
However, this implies that people with harmful intentions have more ways than ever to obtain our personal information. Hackers can use technology gadgets in new ways to steal our personal data and sell it, or to commit crimes ranging from identity fraud to theft and more.
Cybercrime is not new to the spotlight. We know that hackers may acquire unauthorised access to military and government data, even when it is secured by the most strict cybersecurity. Phones and computers, for example, have long relied on security software in some form or another, and there are various solutions available to help users feel safe while using them.
When it comes to cybersecurity, one gadget that we often overlook is the e-cigarette. Although vaping devices do not link to the internet (yet), they can be manually outfitted with technology that could be used against us. That is why a hacked vape pen poses a concern; it bypasses security software, and most users would not hesitate to plug it in since they are unaware of the danger and would not have a reason to suspect their e-cigarette.
LiQuid, a top UK vaping device vendor, examines remarks from electronic security specialist Ross Bevington, who highlights where the possible risks lie and how serious a threat our vapes may pose in the hands of a hacker.
Hidden hardware threats
Vaping gadgets have gotten increasingly technologically advanced over time. Even the simplest gadgets have data storage capabilities that enable them to store lines of code. While it is unusual that a brand-new item in its original sealed packaging has been purposely tampered with, you should be aware that the information contained within it has been modified when you open it.
A hacker might change the device’s functionalities in a number of ways by installing a hardware chip that increases the device’s data storage capacity. This allows a malicious actor to install a significant quantity of destructive code that may go unnoticed if the device functions normally. This implies that even if your gadget appears and functions like a vaporiser, it might be more.
A hacker might alter the device’s functioning in a number of ways by installing a hardware chip that increases the device’s data storage capacity. This allows a malicious actor to install a significant quantity of malicious code that may go undetected if the device operates normally. This implies that even if your gadget appears and operates like a vaporizer, it might be more.
The real harm may be done when we connect a hacked gadget to other pieces of technology. Linking a vaporiser to a computer or laptop is a frequent method of charging; some manufacturers even suggest charging in this manner rather than connecting your vape to a power outlet. Hackers can change a vape’s data storage capacity and software features so that this connection grants the device nearly infinite access to your computer and the information housed inside.
The e-cigarette can theoretically acquire total access to your computer’s system as soon as the device to which you attach your vape is unlocked. Following this, the infected programme has total control over your personal information, and the hacker in charge may do whatever they want with it.
USB keyboard impersonators
Mr Bevington explains how a vape pen might acquire even more access to your system: “Even if it doesn’t seem like one, a USB device may pretend to be a keyboard. As a hacker, after you’ve become a keyboard, you may enter anything, including commands to download malware “. Most individuals would not expect their vaping equipment to be used in this manner, which is what makes this plan so effective – and so dangerous for users. If we mistakenly link a vaporiser to software like this, the hacker may easily deceive our system and go wild.
The best defence against this threat is just being aware of the possibility and exercising appropriate caution.
Vape devices pose a small risk
While the possibility exists, Ross Bevington reassures us that “e-cigarettes are highly limited in both connectivity and storage, which inhibits their usage in malevolent circumstances”.
He continues by claiming that malware has very little possibility of unlocking the gadget to which it is linked. If you are concerned about your computer’s security, keep it closed when connecting to charge your vaporiser. Even if the device has been changed by a hostile party, this limits its access to important information.
Mr. Bevington emphasises the low risk of vaping devices, saying: “In reality, you should be more concerned about running malicious software. Ensuring that your system is up to date with the newest software upgrades,” he explains, “is the danger.”
How to protect yourself against USB malware attacks
If you often connect USB devices to your computer, there are a few steps you can do to protect yourself against cyber-attacks targeting this access point. “You can buy a variety of gadgets that sit in front of the USB port and only enable a device to charge,” Ross explains. Businesses frequently employ software to restrict a user’s workstation so that it accepts only devices on a ‘allow’ list.
Another crucial factor is common sense. Making sure that everything you connect through USB is dependable and comes from a reputable source might assist to avoid risk. If you are worried about a gadget’s safety, charge it using a plug socket rather than another device, and ensure that devices owned by friends or family are secure before connecting.
When it comes to vapes, make sure you buy from a reputable vendor and that the item is in original packaging with no signs of tampering – avoid market stalls, particularly those selling generic, unbranded items.
While it may appear that this is a simple statement, having a strong password for your computer and locking it while not in use will help keep you secure. You may also purchase anti-virus software and monitoring systems to help you identify anything unusual.