Electronic cigarettes: A threat to cybersecurity?

Electronic cigarettes: A threat to cybersecurity?

Turns out e-cigarettes are not just bad for your lungs – they’re also a potential threat to your computer.

We live in an age of unprecedented connectivity. These days, objects that were once everyday, inanimate things are now equipped with IP connectivity. Why have a regular old TV when you can have a smart one – a device that knows what you like without you having to tell it. Or how about the smart temperature controller that learns your schedule and regulates your home’s temperatures accordingly? But advanced though these gadgets are, they also pose new security issues if they’re not properly guarded. And that’s something e-smokers may have particular cause to be concerned about.

E-Cigs and computer viruses
Among smokers, e-cigarettes often present a popular alternative to the traditional pack of smokes. There’s no debating that smoking is extremely unhealthy, but on the spectrum of unhealthiness, some reports have shown that e-cigs pose less of a threat than conventional ones. Still, smokers of the electronic variety may have additional cause for concern, since reports are surfacing that e-cigs could potentially infect PCs with malware.

Here’s how the infection would work: In order to recharge, most e-cigs need to be plugged into a computer with a USB. They then proceed to charge like an iPod or smartphone. Thus, in order for malware to infiltrate a PC via the e-cig, it would simply have to be embedded in the USB port to begin with. And one user on a popular social news site said that’s exactly what is happening.

“One particular executive had a malware infection on his computer from which the source could not be determined,” the user stated. This user said that the culprit was finally discovered: an e-cig. “The made in China e-cigarette had malware hardcoded into the charger, and when plugged into a computer’s USB port the malware phoned home and infected the system.”

This type of infection – called product line malware – is by no means limited to e-cigs. Indeed, there have been many other instances in which devices requiring a USB connection – such as MP3 players – have been infected with malware at some point during assembly, before they even reach the customer. And with the broad move toward smart everything, it is very likely that such instances of embedded infections will only grow. As the threat sphere expands, so too must the defensive response.

E-Cig threat offers implicit lesson to enterprises
This e-cig story affirms one thing that businesses must take note of: The originating points of malicious attacks are so vast that the only solution to combating them is comprehensive security. In order to provide the best security possible to patrons, companies have a responsibility to implement robust and broad-based solutions like layered security. Faronics offers the most formidable layered security out there – a solution that meets the demand for top-of-the-line protection necessitated by constant cybercrime. Here are the different layers, broken down:

  • Layer 1: This layer is comprised of Faronics’ antivirus software, which will detect and destroy widely prevalent threats like Trojans and worms. However, there’s a possibility that some of the stealthier bad guys will circumvent this layer, in which case they’ll meet…
  • Layer 2: Anti-executable software. This solution ensures that only pre-approved programs make it through – that means no room for viruses and targeted attacks. In the highly unlikely event that a malicious entity actually makes it past layer 2, well then, it’s time for…
  • Layer 3: Faronics’ Deep Freeze software. This is the layer that will make your business truly unbreachable by enabling an easy “restore” that will put your computers back to their predetermined settings with the simple click of a button.
About The Author

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, expert on Reboot Restore Technology when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.

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