The Dangers of Purchasing Third-Party Computer Accessories

Think all computer accessories and cables are safe? Think again! Learn how your next accessory purchase could expose your organization to hackers and threats.  

Changing Cables

Buying third-party accessories for computing devices can save money, but what if those purchases ended up being the cause of a cybersecurity attack and the exposure of your company’s sensitive data? New third-party charging cables that have come on the market could be your next data breach culprit if you’re not careful. According to a blog post written by NewQuest IT Solutions, modified versions of Apple’s Lightning cables could be used to gain unauthorized access to your organization’s devices. A hacker can use the wireless implant embedded in the cable to commit an intrusion simply by typing in the cable’s IP address.

How It Works

Since the third-party cable cannot be identified as counterfeit with the naked eye, it is easy for many to be fooled into believing it is legitimate. When you plug in the cable to charge or sync a device, a hacker can now access all the information on that device. The wireless implant inside the cable sends out signals equivalent to a Wi-Fi hotspot. By typing in the cable’s IP address, the hacker is able to pull up data from the device, install malware, send scripts and other commands. The hacker can accomplish all of this as long as he or she is within 300 ft of the cable’s wireless signal.

Devices at Risk

Any device that uses a third-party charging cable or accessory is at risk. That risk increases if multiple third-party accessories are plugged in or the supplier of the accessories could be considered suspect. Although the example highlighted by NewQuest IT Solutions is applicable to Apple devices, there are enough third-party cables and accessories for Windows-based devices that can make them far from risk-adverse. Smartphones, computers, tablets and older devices like the iPod that sync are all vulnerable.

What to Look For

To avoid buying counterfeit accessories and cables, double-check the packaging, the accessory and the supplier. Only purchase third-party accessories that are labeled as certified. Another way to avoid a potential cybersecurity threat is to only purchase from trusted and verified suppliers. Finally, consider switching to OEM versions whenever possible. Although the initial or per unit cost might be higher, it could save you and your organization a more expensive headache in the long run.