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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chinese Appliances are Shipping with Malware-Distributing WiFi Chips

As reported by GeekWas the iron in the last hotel room you stayed in made in China? Bad news: it may have been hiding an insidious little chip designed to infect your computer with spam-serving malware.

It’s not just irons that are being used as tiny trojan horses, either. Dashboard cameras, cell phones, and tea kettles have also been found inconspicuously outfitted with the malicious chips. They’re reportedly capable of latching on to any computer within 200 meters that’s attached to an unsecured WiFi network… like the ones in many hotels and coffee shops.
Shipments of modified small appliances are apparently popping up in Russia, but that could just be the tip of the iceberg. It’s entirely possible that the Russian gadgets were the first to be spotted and that similar malware gear has already been shipped to other corners of the globe.
It’s bad enough that you can’t trust that unfamiliar USB charger you were just about to plug your smartphone in to, but now you can’t even trust the iron you were going to use to press your slacks.
So what are these sneaky Chinese appliances up to? Right now, it looks like they’re only looking for unsuspecting drones to add to someone’s spam-serving army. Once a machine has been compromised, though, it’s possible that those in control would push additional malware to a victim’s machine.
They may even start sniffing WiFi traffic for usernames, passwords, and payment data being passed around in the open. Until security researchers learn more, you may want to unplug the iron in your next hotel room right after you inspect the mattress for bed bugs.