Can Hackers Target Your Vaping Device?

We can’t overstate the role technology plays in today’s world. Many gadgets, including mobile phones, tablets, computers, smartwatches, and more, have not only transformed the way we live but also opened the floodgates to a virtually boundless sea of information. In return, these devices use and retain copious amounts of our personal data.

Unfortunately, the expansion of our digital footprint provides fertile ground for hackers to infiltrate our private lives. Modern cybercriminals can exploit a vast array of technologies to extract personal information, subsequently trading or using it for criminal purposes, including identity theft and other forms of fraud.

Cybercrime is no new phenomenon and frequently captures headlines. We’re well aware that hackers can infiltrate even the most fortified systems, such as military and governmental databases. Therefore, everyday tech like mobile phones and computers have grown dependent on various security measures to ensure their users feel secure while interacting with them.

However, one device that typically falls under the radar when discussing cyber security is the e-cigarette. Although they don’t connect to the internet (yet), these vaping devices can be customised with additional technologies that could be employed for criminal purposes. This is why the notion of a hacked vape pen is a genuine cause for concern; it can circumvent security software, and the majority of users, unaware of the potential risk, wouldn’t think twice before plugging it in.

LiQuid, a premier UK vape liquid distributor, shares insights from digital security analyst Ross Bevington, who explores the prospective risks and the magnitude of the threat our vaping devices could represent in the hands of a hacker.

The Hidden Risks of Hardware

Over time, vaping devices have evolved, now housing data storage capabilities even in the most fundamental models. Although it’s improbable that a brand-new, factory-sealed device has been modified, it’s wise to acknowledge the potential for the device’s data to be altered upon unpacking.

By introducing a hardware chip, a hacker could manipulate the device’s functions, thereby expanding its data storage capacity. Such modifications enable criminals to embed harmful code, which could remain unnoticed if the device operates as expected, meaning your seemingly harmless vaping device could harbour more than meets the eye.

The true risk materialises when a compromised device is connected to other tech tools. It’s commonplace to charge vape devices via PC or laptop connections, a practice even endorsed by some manufacturers, as opposed to utilising a power socket. Malicious modifications to the vape’s data storage and software functionalities could grant the device almost unrestricted access to your computer and all its stored data once connected.

Subsequently, the corrupted application obtains complete control over your personal data, leaving it at the mercy of the responsible hacker.

USBs Disguised as Keyboards

Discussing how a vape pen could attain an even deeper level of access to your system, Mr Bevington explains: “A USB device may possibly appear to be a keyboard, even if it doesn’t look like one. As a hacker, after you’ve become a keyboard, you may type in anything, such as orders to download malware.” 

The sheer unpredictability of a vape device being exploited in this manner makes this strategy both incredibly potent and a significant threat to users. If we inadvertently connect a vape equipped with such a programme, the hacker could effortlessly deceive our system, unleashing havoc.

The best defence against such a hazard is awareness of the potential and exercising due diligence.

By Oliver Norman, Content Marketing Manager at LiQuid