June 14, 2018
Cyber-security specialists have expressed shock that reporters at the conference between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in Singapore were given fans which were USB-powered.
Some cautioned journalists not to plug them into their laptops, as Universal Serial Bus (USB) appliances can carry malevolent program.
The fans were part of a gift bag including a brand-named water bottle as well as a local handbook.
The temperature reached 33 degrees centigrade in Singapore during the meeting.
Dutch reporter Harald Doornbos tweeted a photo of the fan.
The tweet reads: “Handy. In the press stuff for the #KimTrumpSummit, there is a mini USB fan – suitable to remain cool at the time of writing. It is quite hot here in Singapore, 33 degrees centigrade or so. But it does not reach Dubai, king of the oven.”
But cyber-security specialist Prof Alan Woodward, from Surrey University, stated: “For years now, engineering people to plug in a USB stick you provided has been a typical way of avoiding safety measures in order to get your software on their machine.”
“There is an adage in cyber-security: if you give somebody physical access to your computer, it is no longer your computer. Use an unfamiliar USB stick and you are doing just that.”
The gift packets were put together by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) in Singapore.
In reaction, it told the BBC: “The USB fans were part of Sentosa Development Corporation’s (SDC) ready stock of securities, originally meant for Sentosa Islander members. SDC had rated USB fans to be at hand as well as a helpful gift for the media, who would be working in Singapore’s hot weather.
“MCI and SDC have endorsed that the USB fans are simple appliances with no storage or processing abilities.”