Russian investigators claim to have found household appliances imported from China which contain hidden microchips that pump spam data and malware into wi-fi networks.
Authorities in St Petersburg allegedly discovered 20 to 30 kettles and irons with ‘spy microchips that send some data to the foreign server’, according to Russian media.
The revelation comes just as the EU launches an investigation into claims that Russia itself bugged gifts to delegates at last month’s G20 summit in an attempt to retrieve data from computers and telephones.
This has led to speculation that the chips allegedly found in the home appliances may also have the ability to steal data and send it back to Chinese servers.
The allegations against the Chinese were made in St Petersburg news outlet Rosbalt, which quotes a source from customs broker Panimport, but does not detail what data was being sent or to where.
According to The Register, which translated the article, it would be possible to build a malicious microchip – sometimes referred to as a spambot or spybot – small enough to hide in a kettle.
It also believes there are many readily available transformers which could be used to convert Russia’s 220V electricty supply to power the chips without destroying them.
But it casts doubt on the report’s claims that the devices were discovered because they were overweight as it is unlikely that the difference of a few grams would have been enough to raise suspicion.
This might only have happened if the appliances were air-freighted, it said, which was probably not the case because they were cheap items.
It emerged yesterday that the European Union is investigating gifts that visiting delegations received at last month’s summit in St Petersburg of leaders from the world’s 20 top economies after newspaper reports alleged Russia was trying to install spyware on computers to snoop on participants.
European Commission spokesman Frederic Vincent said that experts were looking into the handouts, which included USB sticks and were given out at the Group of 20 summit, but said ‘analysis of hardware and software have not amounted to any serious security concerns.’
He added the investigation had not yet been fully completed.
Italian newspapers reported early this week 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 which, once plugged in, would infect computers with spying software.
At the G-20 summit on September 5-6, world leaders from countries including the U.S., China, Germany and Brazil gathered for two days of talks.
Vincent also said the EU delegation would have been well prepared for such attempts, if true. He said it was a routine rule for EU diplomats and leaders to stay away from using handouts or any external equipment during foreign travel.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2480900/China-spying-KETTLE-Bugs-scan-wi-fi-devices-imported-kitchen-gadgets.html#ixzz2jXQzvXAc
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook