Your cup o’ Joe (or any hot beverage) isn’t even safe from hackers

Hackers are indisputably clever; every day finding new ways to circumvent barriers and find their way into your devices. The battle between “White Hats” and “Black Hats” is one which has waged on with increasing intensiveness for decades – and only set to grow. Not even your kettle is safe.

Russian authorities claimed that household appliances imported from China have been found to contain tiny microchips which seek out open WiFi networks and then distribute malware.

St Petersburg-based news outlet Rosbalt claim they found “20 to 30 pieces of Chinese home appliance 'spy' microchips” which “sends some data to the foreign server”. Which server, or details of what data is transferred is not given – as such, we can only assume it’s rogue individuals.

The chips would not contain their own battery at that size, and would only be active when plugged into the mains – hence the requirement to look like innocent household items.

A quick Google search throws up many commercially-available examples, including; a GSM mains adapter, and even an inconspicuous computer mouse.

Research from Akamai place China at the top of the list for the world’s computer-attack traffic, whilst notably traffic could originate from another country and be “routed” through China - it’s also worth considering TelecomsTech reported earlier this year that a breach of Google’s servers in 2010 was found to originate from Chinese hackers looking for US spy data.

The news comes after it emerged yesterday that the European Union is investigating gifts that visiting delegations received at last month's G-20 summit in St Petersburg. Italian newspapers reported on allegations that Russia tried to spy on participants of the G-20 summit by giving officials free equipment like USB sticks or mobile phone chargers – worrisome gifts.

European Commission spokesman Frederic Vincent said experts were looking into it, but said 'analysis of hardware and software have not amounted to any serious security concerns.'

He adds the investigation has not yet been fully completed.

This is undoubtedly just the start of the cyber-warfare news.

Should we start being more aware about household items posing a cyber security risk?

Related Stories

Leave a comment


This will only be used to quickly provide signup information and will not allow us to post to your account or appear on your timeline.