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USB Blog

13 Nov 2013

Russia Spied on World Leaders with USB Sticks

Posted by alan on 13/11 | 1 comment
Russia Spied on World Leaders with USB Sticks

There's nothing quite like coming back from a trade fair or a conference with a big bag of corporate swag. We'll admit that we've been to a few of these events in our time, and in the cold light of day, you realise that you've already got a mouse mat and a promotional drinks coaster, and you could really do without all those leaflets you picked up just to be polite.

Then there's the promotional USB memory stick. Still the jewel in the crown for promotional and marketing gifts, even if we say so ourselves. Not only are they the sort of premium item that gets your name out there, they're marketing tools in themselves as even the most hardened executive can't resist the pre-loaded content. 

We guarantee that our devices are 100% useful, unlike the rot allegedly given out by the Russian government...

It turns out that the USB memory drives given away by the Russian government to leaders and delegations to the G20 economic summit in St Petersburg may have been infected with a payload capable of spying on sensitive data from delegates' computer systems.

According to press reports, the devices were given out in welcome packs to all the foreign delegations who arrived at Russia's second city to discuss the state of the world economy.

Italy's La Stampa newspaper claimed that the Russians had pre-loaded the devices with a Trojan, but it was uncertain how many of these devices were used, or how effective they were.

Among those attending was Prime Minister David Cameron, whose office denied he had received one of these gifts; and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who recently revealed that she was being spied on for several years by the American NSA. She must be thoroughly sick to the back teeth of foreign governments intercepting her communications.

Other freebies of dubious purpose were mobile phone chargers, which were said to be capable of tapping into emails, phone calls and text messages.

The alarm was reportedly raised by the delegation from the European Union, who later said – diplomatically, it seems – they had "total confidence" in the gifts. Russia denied any wrongdoing, but one diplomat said it would be a "schoolboy error" to use the gifts without checking them out first.

If anything, it shows that the first thing you do when you get hold of any new device – even brand new out of the packaging – is to virus check it first.

User Comments

very interesting indeed

By Rich on 13th November 2013
From the entry 'Russia Spied on World Leaders with USB Sticks'.

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