A few days ago Casey Nolan wrote an article about padlocked USBs for added security to any form of data. I concur with him, but I’d also like to add a few notes of my own. I’ve had my data hacked; it happened in 2008. The point is that I was careless and it could have been avoided in the first place. I’ll fill you in on the incident a little later in this article.

Moving on, there was a report that came out in 2010; something along the lines of researchers warning against the use of modded data storage devices, keyboards and anything that does not come in its original form or shape. Even coffee warmers are coming with pre installed bug chips to help NSA keep tabs on you.

How my data was hacked and how you can prevent a hack attempt?

There was a user at Reddit who posted a photo of his coffee mug several weeks ago. The base of the mug fell apart, hence revealing a bugging device that was installed at the time of “manufacturing.” The post got viral, and NSA, CIA and various other government organizations took the shot for it.

Picture of user showing a bugging device installed at the base of his coffee mug

Not that we don’t mind being protected by these agencies in the name of national security, but seriously when they start planting chips to keep tabs on our personal lives, it kind of becomes a BIG issue. A while ago, I mentioned at the very start of this article about encountering a data breach. Well, my system got hacked because I bought ‘Elite Guard’ series and various other USBs in the shape of small plastic toys.

They looked cute and came in a “limited” number edition. I thought of buying one. Several days later, I noticed some suspicious file activity in my computer. By default, my C: drive was taking up a lot of space to store data. I did some background check, and found out that Windows was busy taking screenshots and logs of files through a keylogger that came as part of the preset drivers in that USB drive.

Two years ago when such reports were being made, most of the people took them as a hoax. Now, when the importance of online data security cannot be further over emphasized, I think those reports were legit. Yes, you can have your data hacked or someone looking over your shoulder without even knowing it.

Make sure that modified USB drives, keyboards and other hardware components that either come with modded drivers, or custom script commands, are clean. There’s no harm in collecting modded accessories, as long as they are being sold by legit sellers on the internet. If I shop at Amazon or ebay, I always check seller rating and product reviewers from buyers who have already bought the sellers’ goods. 

Editor’s Note

The coffee mug turned out to be a perfectly okay product. The user bought it from Amazon; these mugs used to play music, and are mostly discontinued nowadays.