How Vaping Can Be Bad for You in More Ways Than You Know

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How Vaping Can Be Bad for You in More Ways Than You Know

You wouldn't just pick a perfectly fine-looking, wrapped candy bar up off the floor and eat it, would you? The same applies to removable media such as USB devices – you just don’t pick them up and use them.


Why not? You may ask. We all use USB thumb drives, they are everywhere. You might be aware of the old “sticks on the ground trick,” though, where bad guys sprinkle USB drives in parking lots. Curious people plug them in and launch malware. As an example, during the alleged spy case at Mar-a-Lago, a Secret Service agent plugged in the thumb drive the intruder had on her, which immediately started installing files on the computer. Thanks to this recent incident, many people know USBs can potentially carry malware, but security experts say USB devices can hide way more dangerous attacks.


But what does this have to do with vaping?


Eric Knapp from Honeywell’s Industrial Cybersecurity team, gave a presentation at the RSA security conference earlier this year in San Francisco. He made a “Vape-inator” himself, a plug-in device using an e-cigarette charger with a surprise hidden inside. When he plugged the device into his computer, it took over the presentation deleting words and replacing them with some – luckily plain fun –comments.


It is important to know that any USB device could be modified or manipulated to act as a keyboard. “Keyboards can type things, but if you're typing the right things on the right computer with the right privileges, you can do almost anything,” Knapp said. “Don't just essentially trust anything. If you see a USB pen drive lying on the floor of a cubicle, do not suppose it was left there accidentally. It could have been put there on purpose hoping that you would pick it up and use it, but really the number one defense is awareness and just be mindful of what you are doing.”


What to do to prevent a cyberattack? Experts say companies need to pay more attention to what USB devices people are using. Disabling USB ports is challenging in industrial environments, where employees and contractors frequently rely on patches and updates from USB devices, However, they can use technology that monitors, protects and logs the use of removable media such as USBs.


If you are interested in more information, visit Honeywell SMX.


You can also view Archer News interview with Eric Knapp at the RSA Conference here.

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