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May 25 2016

Don’t Plug That In!

By Bob Hooper for The Island Connection

So you have decided it’s time to quit that nasty smoking habit and one way is to try the “new” E-Cigs out on the market. You go to the store and get one that looks like a cigarette and has a charger for it which has a usb connection for your laptop.

Don’t plug that in. At least not into your laptop/desktop, use a wall charger to plug the usb into. Over the years it’s been shown that “cheap” China made “vapes” or E-cigs can have malware (a virus is a type of malware) installed on them, called Hardwired, and once connected to a computer will “phone home” and download all sorts of bad stuff to your computer.

This can happen with any device you plug in, even a photo frame that you upload you favorites pictures to, cheap smart phones etc. The general theme in all the infected products is they are cheap and made in China. The malware is very hard to detect as it’s being installed and some of it sits idle for a while until it shows itself, in some cases it tries to hide as long as possible, all the while sending back data to “home” about you, your shopping habits, keystrokes (including passwords) and all sorts of info about what/how you use your device.

Many larger corporations have disabled USB ports, some have gone so far as to super-glue them shut. Others have policies about what can be attached to a company laptop and are pretty strict about it. More than one company has been tricked by a USB stick being left at the front desk with the owner/CEO/big person’s name or title on it. The owner or someone else plugs in the innocent looking thing and while they are trying to find the data a piece of malware is being installed and trying to infect the whole system. Just like that, a bad guy/gal has now made a “backdoor” into the company and basically can do whatever they want. They could change email parameters, deny access or reroute it anywhere in the world.

So don’t plug it in really means just that. When buying something that has a USB connection to charge, buy the adapter and plug in to the wall to charge. When buying something, spend a bit more and buy the real product, not a knock-off from China. Thanks to Jamey Mellis and his weekly radio show for reminding me of this nasty, nasty way of getting your devices infected.

I look forward to some good questions and helping you out. If you need immediate assistance you can always call Rent A Bob at 843.822.7794 or at rentabob@live.com.

 

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