Gift USB fans have no processing capabilities: MCI

The portable USB fans given to journalists during the Trump-Kim summit have no storage or processing capabilities, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said yesterday.

Recent reports by media outlets, including the BBC, said the USB devices could pose a cyber-security risk as they can carry malware.

The fans were distributed in goodie bags to more than 2,500 local and foreign journalists who were in Singapore to cover the historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday.

Items in the goodie bags, which included notebooks, tourist guides and bottled water from various partners, were put together by MCI.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, an MCI spokesman said the fans are "simple devices with no storage or processing capabilities". The spokesman added that the fans, distributed by the Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC), were part of SDC's ready stock of products originally meant for Sentosa Islander members.

Sentosa Islander is a membership programme for visitors.

"SDC had assessed USB fans to be a handy and thoughtful gift for the media working in Singapore's tropical climate," the spokesman said.

Since Sunday, when the media centre for the summit opened at the F1 Pit Building, several journalists have tweeted about the USB fan.

The portable USB fans were distributed in goodie bags to more than 2,500 local and foreign journalists covering the historic Trump-Kim summit on Tuesday.
The portable USB fans were distributed in goodie bags to more than 2,500 local and foreign journalists covering the historic Trump-Kim summit on Tuesday. ST PHOTO

In its report on Tuesday, the BBC quoted a cyber-security expert as saying that plugging in a USB stick has been a "classic way of circumventing security measures to get your software on their machine".

Professor Alan Woodward of Surrey University told the BBC: "There is an adage in cyber security: If you give someone physical access to your computer, it is no longer your computer. Use an unknown USB stick and you are doing just that."

Charmaine Ng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2018, with the headline 'Gift USB fans have no processing capabilities: MCI'. Print Edition | Subscribe