As if quitting smoking isn't hard enough already for those who opt to kick the habit, keeping the price down on the expensive e-cigarette alternative can also be bad for your computer's health and a headache for IT system administrators everywhere too.
A user on Reddit posted a strange story in the r/talesfromtechsupport subreddit about an executive at a unnamed "large corporation", country unknown, suffering from a malware infection on his workstation despite having latest virus and anti malware programs in place, the cause of the infection had them scratching their heads.
Finally after exhausting all options the IT worker asked the executive:
“Have there been any changes in your life recently”? The executive answer[ed] “Well yes, I quit smoking two weeks ago and switched to e-cigarettes”.
And that was the answer they were looking for, the "made in China" $5 e-cigarette purchased on eBay also came with malware loaded in the charger. The moment the executive plugged it into his workstation the malware copied itself to the computer, called home and infected the system.
If you think this sounds absurd, don't be fooled, as Security Affairs puts it, although they were unable to verify the authenticity of the report on Reddit, "Despite the (fact the) idea could appear hilarious, many electronic cigarettes can be charged over USB using a special cable or by inserting one end of the cigarette directly into a USB port." it has been known to happen with battery chargers as well as USB powered photo frames.
The Guardian also reported the opinion of Rik Ferguson, a security consultant for Trend Micro, who also considers plausible the story reported on Reddit:
“Production line malware has been around for a few years, infecting photo frames, MP3 players and more,” he says. In 2008, for instance, a photo frame produced by Samsung shipped with malware on the product’s install disc.
So even though you could be doing the right thing by kicking cigs, consider the implications of cutting the cost of the alternative, which can also be pretty bad for your PC and IT department.