Scare Tactics:  Use a USB condom to prevent computer hacks via e-cigs

Scare Tactics: Use a USB condom to prevent computer hacks via e-cigs

The latest scare tactic of anti-vaping lobbyists centers around the devious notion that e-cigs can lead to computer hacks when attached via a standard USB connection.   News stories are hitting social media like wildfire, warning everyone under the sun that their sensitive data may be at risk of security breaches and malware attacks.  Headlines of e-cigs allegedly “stealing your secrets” are sending a terrifying message into the WebSphere and once again demonizing vaping in an entirely new way.

The solution is simple. Use a USB condom.  Or perhaps even easier, purchase a vaping device that does not require a USB connection whatsoever.

What is a USB condom for e-cig charging?

Despite the contraption’s rather sexual name, an USB condom is a very simple gizmo that adds an extra layer of protection between the USB port of the computer and the attached device – any device.  They can and should be used whenever any kind of technological appliance is attached to a computer for simple recharging without the need to transfer information from one device to the next. 

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USB condoms prevent unintentional exchange of data by deactivating the data pins of the USB cable while allowing the power pins to remain fully functional.   When a USB condom is in place, no files from the e-cig or vape mod can accidentally migrate onto the computer, and vice versa.  As a result, the USB condom protects the vaper just as much as the computer user by preventing nasty viruses and script files from traveling from a less-than-trusty USB port onto the e-cig and back to the vaper’s PC or Mac.

The best part is that a USB Condom is only about $10.  SyncStop makes a wonderful option for only $6.99 and One-Day Shipping with an Amazon Prime account. 

Outrageous headlines about computer hacks via e-cigs

Once again, the vaping industry is being accused of terrible things.  The Sun ran an alarming headline today which read, Cough, Hack, Splutter: Electronic cigarettes can be used to hack your COMPUTER and steal all your secrets.  Meanwhile, The Daily Mail ran a similar report with the rather ominous headline, The fake cigarette that could steal your files: Experts warn e-cigs can be altered to turn them into hacking tools when charged by their USB ports.

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Many of these stories suggest that the vapers are intentionally installing a specially designed hardware chip into their electronic vape gear that has a pre-written script that can accomplish all sort of criminal tasks. 

“The discovery was made by Ross Bevington, who is a security researcher and 'proper' C++ software developer who specializes in low level computer security and bespoke system development.”

“He explained that by connected the device to a computer, the hacker is able to interfere with network traffic or trick it into thinking it is a keyboard and will upload the pre-written script.”
Sky News article, How e-cigarettes can be used to hack computers

 

First, vaping came under scrutiny for a series of “explosions” that are not the fault of the vaping industry in the slightest.  The explosions are almost always the result of poor user maintenance, poor user transport or storage practices, or shoddy battery construction.

The e-cig has very little to do with it.  Any device using the same sorts of batteries would fall under the same risks. Yet, vaping gets the lion’s share of the blame.

Now, e-cigs are under attack for computer hacks, when in reality, almost any electronic device that is connected to a USB port without the use of a USB condom can be turned into a cyber-weapon for criminal activity.  One has to wonder:  Who’s behind this latest wave of anti-vaping propaganda?  And what’s coming next?

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints, policy or company position of Vapes.com, the rest of our staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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