USB condoms

Posted: September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

In my last post I wrote about an attack that has come to be known as juice jacking in which you use a USB charger, likely at a public charging station, to keep your cell phone or tablet going a little longer and, without your knowledge, someone has modified the charger to do more than just give your device a boost. 

The problem is that the USB connection can, in addition, to providing juice, also transfer data. This means that while you are getting a charge  someone could be stealing your sensitive data or planting a virus on your trusted electronic companion.

So, what should you do? You could simply avoid all USB chargers, which would be extreme, or just avoid all USB chargers that aren’t yours, which is inconvenient. Or you could use a “USB condom” for safe charging.

Let me be clear, I have not tried one of these devices (nor have I needed to) so I don’t know how effective they are but, at least in principle, the idea is interesting. What this device does is disable all the connections that involve data transfer leaving only the charging pathway open. A simple idea that could be quite effective.

Do you need one? The answer to that question has more to do with your tolerance for risk than any objective, technical criteria so I’ll let you decide on that one. Either way, it’s interesting food for thought…

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