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Will Cheap E-Cigs Give Your Computer A Virus?

By Tyler McCanus

Wednesday December 3, 2014
does your e-cigarette battery usb charger give your computer an unwanted virus
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Imagine purchasing a rechargeable electronic cigarette and within weeks your computer starts going haywire. This particular e-cig unit is something you picked up from a generic, Chinese mass produced e-cigarette such as the kind you find at many gas stations and convenience stores…..not a known quality name like Halo e cig, White Cloud or Apollo E-Cig for instance.

This is truly a cautionary tale that emphatically highlights why you need to avoid cheap e-cigarettes.

Which brands do involve suspect e-cigarette hardware? That’s hard to say. Here’s a hint, e-cigarette brands that perform poorly, i.e. they break down quickly, they taste terrible, they produce little vapor, are likely thrown together with a basic blueprint without a care in the world for how they actually work. They are generic brands that can be packaged under any name.

One thing is for sure, you will never see any of these brands listed on the pages of ECCR. The recommended electronic cigarettes are all vetted for quality and have all established themselves as reputable companies in this for the long haul.

Another hint, don’t buy from anyone who can’t tell you anything about what you are buying. This is the problem with buying from most general retailers like gas stations, drug stores or convenience stores. ECCR actually went undercover to take a look at what happens when you buy ecigs from retailers that actually have no idea what they are selling you.

Tip: Make sure you check into the background of the e-cig brand you plan to buy. Read our reviews and buy the top ecig brands online. Don’t make your e-cig choice an impulse buy at your local corner store or gas station.

Sure, you may be progressing in your attempts to find an alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes, but something seems fishy beyond that. The only interaction your e-cig may have with your computer is the USB e cig charger that comes with it, and that only charges your battery so what it have to do with any of this? Right?

Turns out that there are bad intentioned e-cigarette manufacturers out there that should make you think twice before inserting that “harmless” e cig charger into your USB port.

This is what an executive at a large and unnamed company learned recently, with the story leaked online by the tech guys who found the problem. Now it is important to reiterate that this wasn’t a known and reputable brand like Halo, Green Smoke or Apollo e cig that the person was using, it was just another knock off from China that he ordered.

Even with that, there wasn’t a reason for him to think that his e cig charger was carrying a virus that would implant itself on his computer. The poor guy was just looking for a way to vape and bought the wrong rechargeable electronic cigarette from one of the many shady e-cigarette manufacturers in China.

Rechargeable Electronic Cigarette USB Chargers

recharging a cheap e-cig through a USB port can put you at risk for a computer virusThis isn’t to say that every product coming from that part of the world is bad, that isn’t necessarily the case at all. Many Chinese manufacturers are very good and meet high standards. Kanger, for instance, and several others. This is also the first reported story of an e-cig carrying a virus that we have every heard of. Yet it does remind us of the dangers of buying from some no-name brand where you really don’t know what you are going to get.

Your e cig charger isn’t the first item to be targeting the USB port on your computer as a potential vulnerable spot to insert a virus or other so-called malware. As Rik Ferguson, a security consultant for Trend Micro, explained in an interview with the Guardian, “Production line malware has been around for a few years, infecting photo frames, MP3 players and more.”

We don’t know about all of you, but that concept is a little shocking and scary. The advent of the USB port has made life easier and given us a simple and universal way to charge and use electronic gadgets, but nobody really thinks about the loophole it can open up to your computer.

Unscrupulous Manufacturers Embedding Viruses In USB Chargers And Other Devices Is Not Unique To Cheap E-Cigarettes

Apparently this goes for e-cigs just as much as your MP3 player. ID management firm Bit4Id’s chief information security officer is Pierluigi Paganini and he is very straightforward in saying “Hackers are able to exploit any electronic device” for their nefarious purposes. “Despite the [fact the] idea could appear hilarious, many electronic cigarettes can be charged over USB using a special cable or by inserting one end of the cigarette directly into a USB port” Paganini points out. It is so commonplace for vapers to charge their electronic cigarette via USB, that it is almost surprising it took this long for us to hear about something like a virus come up. After all, this idea probably isn’t very new for hackers.

What does this mean for you? Well, first of all we hope that you are purchasing from reputable companies such as Halo e cig, Apollo or Green Smoke. Do that and you don’t have to worry about your computer being infected by anything malicious from your e-cig.

E-cigarette manufacturers number in the hundreds if not thousands, but there are only so many that you can trust to be reliable and responsible. Stick to those that are. Secondly, we can take this as a compliment for how far and wide the e-cigarette movement has gone.

If the industry wasn’t at the point of being so popular that millions of people are using e-cigarettes, nobody would even think to use an e cig charger as a way into hacking a computer. They say imitation is the best form of flattery, but maybe being a target because you are now so visible is another way to be flattered.

We would prefer to take the compliment without the virus and we think other e-cig users would agree. So be careful what you buy and equally as careful with what you stick in your USB port.

Happy Vaping!

Tyler

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