China-made E-Cigarette Chargers Could Infect Your Computer with Virus

Discussion in 'privacy problems' started by krustytheclown2, Nov 29, 2014.

  1. krustytheclown2

    krustytheclown2 Registered Member

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    http://thehackernews.com/2014/11/china-made-e-cigarette-chargers-could_26.html


    This got me thinking. I have a USB mouse that I use on my super-locked-down-everything-encrypted Linux laptop. I'm super extra careful in preventing anyone gaining physical access to it. I've not been nearly as careful with the mouse, I just leave it out whenever I leave the house without a second thought. Assuming somebody can break into my house and swap my mouse for an identical one with malicious code on it, would it be possible for it to execute any programs or gain root access on a Linux box- if someone specifically tried to design it for that?

    Forgive me for the tin foil hat- but do you guys think it might be possible to do this to a laptop charger as well?
     
  2. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    First, this is a Windows exploit. Second, disabling autorun would have prevented it. Third, plugging random junk into a computer just for charging is dumb. It might just fry the motherboard, as one of the reddit folk notes. That's what USB power bricks are for :)

    But yes, it could have been any USB device, including a mouse. And it can also be done on Linux. It's just far less likely, unless TLAs are interested in you. However, I doubt that a laptop could be compromised via a charger. I don't believe that there are data connections. Right?
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2014
  3. RockLobster

    RockLobster Registered Member

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    I have one of those e-cigarettes the first thing I did was stick in my USB port to charge it.... *slaps face*
     
  4. hawki

    hawki Registered Member

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    You are not alone. I did the same. The fact that my set made by RJ Reynolds says "Designed and Assembled in USA" was not particularly comforting.

    So we may live a little longer but with a compromised PC :)

    Most ecig makers sell accessory charging units that plug into regular wall sockets and you stick your usb charger into that. Some brands include that type of charger in the starter set.

    G-data has a free download that protects your PC from BadUsb, but only the type of attack that takes control of your pc by a keyboard interrupt/takeover attack, which G-Data claims is the most common type of USB attack. Sadly I couldn't use it cuz it messed up the operation of my Windows 8.1 64x OS PC.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2014
  5. krustytheclown2

    krustytheclown2 Registered Member

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    Let's assume that TLA's are interested in me. Can a program from a USB automatically execute in Linux without giving it permission with the root password? I think not, but maybe there's exceptions? This seems to an issue partially due to the fact that most Windows users log in as administrator
     
  6. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

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    I'm quite fond of a multi-cable USB adapter (to go in powered hub or computer) which is power-only. Kind-of accidentally helps with this, because I normally actively don't want all the various actions taken when you connect an intelligent usb device, even with autorun disabled.

    Really, I'm wondering how I create a USB firewall hub which does DPI on USB attachments.
     
  7. SweX

    SweX Registered Member

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  8. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

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    I'm not sure. I do know that the Linux root password can be reset after rebooting into initramfs. So maybe an exploit could write scripts to /home/user, force reboot into initramfs, run a script to reset root password, and then do whatever it wants. I haven't actually tried it, and am not knowledgeable enough Linux to know whether it would work.
     
  9. noone_particular

    noone_particular Registered Member

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    If I thought that TLAs were interested in my PC and that it was possible for them to gain physical access to it long enough to use malicious USB components to compromise it, I'd make certain that USB wasn't available to them. The plugs would be removed, filled with glue, or rewired to attack any device plugged into them. If I absolutely needed to be able to use USB on such a device, I'd move the USB connections to a different plug, like a serial connector and assemble a pigtail that allowed me to plug in USB devices there.
     
  10. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    One of the risks of smoking, hi hi hi.
    Mrk
     
  11. SweX

    SweX Registered Member

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    Haha nice one :argh:
     
  12. guest

    guest Guest

    E-Cigarette? That's a new information to me honestly, never knew their existence or even imagined it, ever. As for the USB infection, old trick, in which the old solutions should still apply.
     
  13. noone_particular

    noone_particular Registered Member

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    If consuming real cigarettes is smoking, e-cigarettes must be NRT, Nicotine Replacement Therapy.
     
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