Customs agents in Russia found tea kettles and irons bugged with tiny Spyware chips that exploit WiFi connections, reports a local news outlet coming out of St. Petersburg.
According to Gizmodo, the microchips are capable of spreading spam and malware to WiFi-enabled devices within 200 meters.
Specific details of the dodgy shipments remain shady. It’s unclear, for example, if the chips were installed by the Chinese or by cyber criminals en route to Russia. It’s also unclear how Russian authorities spotted the contraband in the first place, although one report claims that the weight of some shipments were slightly off. Finally, the extent of the fiasco is also unclear, though limited press coverage suggests that it’s contained to a small shipment in St. Petersburg.
Simon Sharwood of The Register reports that it is indeed possible to build a spambot small enough to fit inside of a kettle, as the necessary components are small and cheap enough. He further asks, “could one convert Russia’s 220v electricity supply to power a small electronic device without frying it, and without making an iron or kettle look rather odd? The answer is yes: all manner of tiny PCB transformers can be had to do the job.”
One question remains unanswered, however: why would China send bugged tea kettles to spy on the ordinary tea-drinkers of Russia?
Gizmodo suggests that perhaps local authorities were mistaken about their findings, pointing out that WiFi tea kettles already exist.
Business Insider speculates that if the kettles are bugged, it could very well be a test for larger operations to plant such microchips.
We’ll let you weave your own intricate conspiracy theory.
[Image Credit: Shardayyy]