Technology has become a cornerstone of our everyday existence, with devices such as smartphones, tablets, personal computers, smartwatches, and other wearables providing unparalleled access to information. Yet, these devices also gather a vast amount of personal data about us, making us targets for those harboring ill intentions.
The ever-increasing interconnectivity presents an abundant number of opportunities for hackers to exploit our personal data. These cybercriminals are skillful at manipulating tech gadgets to steal personal information, execute identity theft, and partake in various unlawful activities.
The issue of cybercrime is well-acknowledged, with even the most resilient cybersecurity measures occasionally faltering in the face of unauthorized intrusions. To safeguard civilian technology such as mobiles and computers, several security software solutions have been devised to instill a feeling of safety.
The e-cigarette, a commonly ignored device in cybersecurity considerations, presents a unique threat. While not designed to connect to the internet as standard, these devices can be modified to contain technology that can be weaponized against unknowing users. The compromised vape pen poses a unique menace, as it bypasses security software and its risk is not widely understood by users.
LiQuid, a leading UK retailer of vaping devices, shares insights from electronic security analyst Ross Bevington about the potential risks and the severity of the threat that vapes could represent if manipulated by a hacker.
Hidden Hardware Hazards
With the evolution of vaping devices, even the most rudimentary ones now possess data storage capabilities. While it’s unlikely that a fresh, sealed device has been intentionally tampered with, vapers need to stay alert when unpacking the device to ensure no modifications have been made.
A hacker could implant a hardware chip to augment the device’s data storage capacity and modify its functions. Theoretically, this could enable an individual with criminal intentions to load substantial volumes of harmful code that could go undetected if the device appears to function normally. Thus, an apparently harmless vape could be concealing something more nefarious.
The real harm arises when a compromised device is linked to another technology containing sensitive or personal data. Many people recharge their vapes by connecting them to a computer or laptop. This connection can be manipulated by hackers to gain virtually unrestricted access to your computer and its data.
Once your vape is connected to an unlocked device, it could potentially gain total control over your computer’s system, allowing the intruding software to collect or manipulate your personal information as per the hacker’s desires.
USBs Masquerading as Keyboards
Ross Bevington delves into how a vape pen can attain even more extensive access to your system, stating: “A USB device may appear to be a keyboard [to your computer], even if it doesn’t look like one. As a hacker, after you’ve become a keyboard, you may type in anything, such as orders to download malware”.
This unanticipated technique can be highly effective for hackers, posing a significant risk for users. If a vaper unintentionally connects an e-cigarette with such capabilities to their computer, the hacker could easily fool the system, take control, and cause extensive damage. Being aware and exercising appropriate caution are the best defences against this threat.
Vaping Devices’ Limited Risk
Despite the potential danger, Ross Bevington reassures us that “e-cigarettes are heavily restricted in both connectivity and storage, which limits their utility in malicious scenarios”.
He further explains that malware is unlikely to unlock the device it’s connected to. To bolster cybersecurity, always keep your computer locked when connecting your vaporiser for recharging. This restricts access to sensitive information, even if the device has been tampered with by a hacker.
While the threat is currently minimal, hackers remain ahead of technological advancements and could exploit vape devices for increasingly malignant purposes in the future. It is crucial to remain vigilant about this risk and take appropriate measures to decrease your susceptibility to hacking attempts.
Shielding Against USB Malware Assaults
If you frequently use USB devices with your computer, there are numerous protective measures you can adopt to defend against cyberattacks targeting these USB entry points. Ross recommends acquiring devices that can be positioned in front of the USB port to limit data transfer and permit only charging capabilities. Companies frequently introduce software to limit user workstations, allowing only devices from a pre-approved ‘permit’ list.
Common sense also plays an instrumental role in protection. Ensuring that any USB-connected devices are dependable, and bought from or manufactured by trusted sources can help reduce risks. If you have any suspicions about a device’s security, charge it through a plug socket rather than another device, and verify that devices owned by friends or relatives are secure before connecting.
When purchasing vapes, opt for a reputable seller and confirm that the item arrives in its original packaging with no signs of meddling. It’s wise to avoid purchasing from market stalls that sell generic, unbranded products.
While it might seem like an obvious suggestion, establishing a strong password for your computer and locking it when not in use will enhance your security. Investing in anti-virus software and monitoring systems can also be instrumental in detecting any irregularities.
Consequently, while the prospect of your vape device being hacked might seem daunting, the risk remains minimal at present. However, staying aware of the potential risks, keeping your systems up-to-date, and implementing safe practices can help ensure your personal data remains secure in the face of evolving technological threats.
This is a sponsored article, written By Oliver Norman, Content Marketing Manager at LiQuid.