Be careful before using your PC to charge up your e-cigarette for your next vaping fix

researcher shows e cigarettes can be source of malware vaping guide header 640x0
Not a day goes by, it sometimes seems, that we don’t hear about another way that hackers can attack our systems and steal our information. Keeping a system locked down and secure can seem like an impossible task when it can be vulnerable in ways that we’d never suspect.

One recent example is some work done by researcher Ross Bevington, who showed that the seemingly innocuous and decidedly low-tech e-cigarette can be used to break into a machine, as ExtremeTech reports. Don’t panic yet, however, because it’s not the vaporous aspects of e-cigarettes themselves that are at fault.

Bevington demonstrated the method of attack using an e-cigarette in a video that he shared on Twitter:

Basically, e-cigarettes require power to function, given that they heat up liquids to create vapors that users inhale as a substitute for burning tobacco. As with many devices today, some rechargeable e-cigarettes come equipped with USB connections to draw power from PCs. That USB connection provides a handy way to keep vaping when you can’t get to a wall socket.

The problem is that any device that can plug into a USB port can hide electronics that can host malware that executes commands when plugged in and wreak havoc on a system. PCs have been designed to make it easy to run programs when USB drives are plugged in and that very convenience can make a system vulnerable to attack. The problem is so severe that some people are making tools that sit between a USB port and the outside world, forming an elaborate barrier.

Of course, e-cigarettes aren’t dangerous out of the box, and if you only use ones that you’ve purchased and don’t let random people plug theirs into your PC, then you’re probably safe. Rather, the real concern is that you could acquire an e-cigarette from a sketchy source that’s been modified to include PC-like smarts.

USB-based malware attacks are nothing new, nor are tools that can literally fry a motherboard merely by plugging in what looks like a typical USB flash drive. While modern systems do have some safeguards built in to stop code from executing, plenty of examples exist that enable these systems to be bypassed. The simplest response is to follow a strict policy of never plugging anything into your USB port if you’re not 100-percent certain it’s safe — and that includes waiting until you get to a plug before charging up your e-cigarette for a quick fix.

Gaming

The plug-and-play PC Classic joins the retro console bandwagon

Gaming company Unit-e is creating the PC Classic, a plug-and-play retro console that will come bundled with around 30 of the best DOS games. The system will support gamepads and keyboard setups.
Computing

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.
Cars

Want to keep connected on the road? Here are 5 ways to add Bluetooth to your car

The best way to make an old ride feel young again is to bring it up speed with the 21st century. Here's how to properly add Bluetooth to your vehicle, via independent kits, vehicle adapters, or aftermarket head units.
Home Theater

What is MHL, exactly, and how does it work with your TV?

There are more ways to mirror your smartphone or tablet to your TV than you might think. Check out our rundown of MHL for everything you need to know about the wired protocol and its myriad uses.
Computing

Want to make one hard drive act like two? Here's how to partition in Windows

If you don't want all of your files stored in one place but only have one drive to work with, partitioning is your best way forward. Here's how to partition a hard drive in Windows 10, step by step.
Computing

Go hands-free in Windows 10 with speech-to-text support

Looking for the dictation, speech-to-text, and voice control options in Windows 10? Here's how to set up speech-to-text in Windows 10 and use it to go hands-free in a variety of different tasks and applications within Windows.
Computing

These cheap laptops will make you wonder why anyone spends more

Looking for a budget notebook for school, work, or play? The best budget laptops, including our top pick -- the Asus ZenBook UX330UA -- will get the job done without digging too deep into your pockets.
Computing

Don't use streaming apps? These are the best free players for your local music

Rather than using music streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Computing

Style up your MacBook Air with one of these great cases or sleeves

Whether you’re looking for added protection or a stylish flourish, you’re in the right place for the best MacBook Air cases. We have form-hugging cases, luxurious covers and padded sleeves priced from $7 to $130. Happy shopping!
Computing

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.
Gaming

Want to gift a Steam game so you can play with a friend? Here's how to do it

The holidays may have passed, but it's always a good time to give the gift of gaming (especially when there's a Steam sale)! Here's our quick guide on how to give a Steam game as a gift.
Computing

Multi-monitor issues? Here's how to resolve them

If you're running into multi-monitor problems, you're not alone. Two screens are very useful, but they can present some difficulties. Here are some common multi-monitor problems and how to fix them.
Computing

Capture screenshots with print screen and a few alternative methods

Capturing a screenshot of your desktop is easier than you might think, but it's the kind of thing you'll probably need to know. Here's how to perform the important function in just a few, easy steps.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.