So I think they call them “dongles”? The usb wireless receiver that’s plugged into your computer? Can they get virus from a computer that has been infected? I imagine it’s no more vulnerable than say a usb mouse is?

But since these Logitech usb devices like your mouse or headphone receivers do contain some firmwares, I imagine they can be infected though uncommon?

  • 1
    You are showing signs of paranoia. I suggest you locate and have a long chat with someone who actually works in information security and let them guide you with a dose of information, security hygiene and common sense around the motivation frequency and targeting of modern attacks.
    – Pedro
    May 28, 2020 at 22:00
  • 1
    The answer to "can X be infected" is almost universally yes, if someone is willing to try hard enough. May 28, 2020 at 23:01
  • 1
    @Pedro good spot, I was about to say. This isn't getting healthy. May 29, 2020 at 2:10
  • For normal users, these questions can seem like paranoia. For an attacker, it's an everyday thing. It's just fun to think "how can I hack into this?". A lot of it can just be pretty normal security concerns to. Jun 29, 2020 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


Assuming it doesn’t present a USB storage device, the simple answer is: no, it won’t be infected in most reasonable scenarios.

The more complicated answer is that any complicated USB device could theoretically be reprogrammed to act maliciously. This could be especially useful to jump air gaps or ensure that all machines used by an individual are infected.

How could this happen? Two examples:

  • An attacker could reprogram the firmware to act as a different USB device, perhaps temporarily. For example if you’re not using your USB receiver it could present as a keyboard and type keystrokes (open Powershell, download some malware etc.).
  • Firmware could be reprogrammed to exploit a bug in the vendor drivers. For example triggering some form of buffer overflow or double free by violating the expected protocol.

There are significant hurdles to achieving these aims, for example:

  • Many devices can’t be updated. The firmware is fixed during manufacture.
  • Most commercial devices won’t have a lot of spare capacity. The manufacturer will try to use the smallest micro controller and memory possible.
  • Update mechanisms will be proprietary and undocumented, requiring substantial reverse engineering.
  • Many (but not all) devices will have code signing or update validation at the micro controller level, typically to prevent counterfeiting. This is more likely to affect common brands, reducing the risk of widespread attacks.
  • Lots of common devices use generic drivers, provided by the operating system. These will (hopefully) present less chance of vulnerabilities.

However, the chances of this are incredibly slim. Slim enough they probably won’t appear in most corporate threat models, but would potentially register for a defence manufacturer and certainly for sensitive Government departments.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.