Made-in-China home appliances contain spy chips

Those cheap made-in-China home appliances you bought from Walmart, like electric irons and tea kettles, may contain computer chips that will infect your computer with viruses.

The BBC News reports that Rossiya 24, the Russian state-owned TV channel, showed footage of a technician opening up an iron included in a batch of Chinese imports to find a “spy chip” with “a little microphone”.

spy iron

The hidden spy chips are mostly being used to spread viruses, by connecting to any computer within a 656 ft radius which uses unprotected Wi-Fi networks. Other products found to have rogue components reportedly included mobile phones and car dashboard cameras.

The TV report quoted one customs brokerage professional as saying the hidden chips had been used to infiltrate company networks, sending out spam without administrators’ knowledge.

Erik Sherman reports for CBSNews, Nov. 1, 2013, that according to tech blog The Register, spy chips were also found in kettles.

Sherman writes:

[…] this is hardly the first time Chinese products were reported infested with ways for someone to break into systems. There was the report last year that a researcher found a so-called back door in a military-grade computer chip, meaning that someone could, from anywhere, get ready access to the chip and, through it, connected systems. 

If military-grade products can be compromised, consumer products can be as well. Former U.S. counter-terrorism head Richard Clarke says that any electronics product made in China is potentially vulnerable. Many parts are counterfeits with no control by manufacturers over how they’re designed and built, and Clarke wonders whether “real” parts from China could also be compromised. (Other security researchers disputed whether the backdoors were added by China or even intentionally malicious. Backdoors are sometimes added by manufacturers as mechanisms for testing and support, although they still add a vulnerability.) 

There have been cases where suspected hacking from China paralleled Chinese military interests, again raising suspicion that the government is either directly or indirectly involved with both military and industrial espionage. 

But given the vast number of products made in China and the increasing percentage of items that included chips of some sort, the potential for problems could be disturbing. One step, as CBS MoneyWatch’s Dave Johnson recently noted, is to turn encryption on for all your wireless networks. That locks out any device that doesn’t know the password. 

Of course, that wouldn’t necessarily help block a new computer “super virus that seems to infect computers even without a network connection, according to an Ars Technica report. The original discovery was by a highly-respected security researcher and no one is sure how it works, other than possibly using high-frequency sound emitted by the speaker of an infected computer and received by the microphone of the target. Could an infected household appliance include a tiny speaker that might broadcast such a sound? Certainly.

H/t CODA’s Sol Sanders

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13 responses to “Made-in-China home appliances contain spy chips

  1. How spooky! A friend of mine had the built-in camera on her computer monitor covered with tape. At the time I thought she was a bit over-cautious. Wrong again!

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    • So… my new coffee maker, or toaster might be listening devices for some spy network? What next?!! My potted palm?!!!

      Oh well, Barry probably already knows I don’t think highly of him.

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  2. Pingback: Made-in-China home appliances contain spy chips |

  3. We just bought a small Black & Decker air cleaner, made in China. I am resisting the temptation to get out my computer geek tools and open it up. Mrs. Dust would not be happy with me for wrecking it. 😀

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  4. This could be taking place with US government/NWO approval. Remember General Petraeus as he showed the extent of his love for our Constitution by happily telling us of dishwashers that could spy on us? He has spent too much time socializing with Bilderbergers and attending one of their meetings.

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  5. Pingback: China Embedding Spy Chips in Everyday Household Gadgets and Appliances | BUNKERVILLE | God, Guns and Guts Comrades!

  6. Pingback: Good News: China Embedding Spy Chips in Everyday Household Gadgets and Appliances | Preppers Universe

  7. This is indeed frightening and foreboding. There has to be some kind of device out there to detect these chips.

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  8. Pingback: NSA builds “back doors” in computers before they reach consumers |

  9. Pingback: Your smart home appliances can be hacked to spy on you |

  10. I am purging my house right now of all made in china products. Come check my dumpster if you want a heater lmao… so far that is all i found, I do not have many things.. no tv, no vcr, no dvd, no video game consoles.. coffee pot and can opener made in America.. Microwave is over 15 years old. toaster is even older…. no dishwasher.. use my two hands for that.. they were made in America by the way. My fone is the only thing left.. I need it right now but soon that will go as well.

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  11. Pingback: Your Smart TV listens, records & transmits your conversations | Fellowship of the Minds

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