I never gave a second thought about plugging my phone into a USB charger on the plane, in the airport, or on a train.  Holy cow, hackers are everywhere!  Did you know that public USB ports may be hazardous to your data, and cyber criminals are able to install malware on your devices through those USB connections? This is known as Juice Hacking.

Caleb Barlow, Vice President of X-Force Threat Intelligence at IBM Security gave this analogy when referring to the use of public USB ports:  “Plugging into a public USB port is kind of like finding a toothbrush on the side of the road and deciding to stick it in your mouth. You have no idea where that thing has been.”

I forgot USB ports are used to pass data and not just a way to charge my phone or tablet. If you want to protect yourself, invest in your own portable power stick or plug your device directly into a wall outlet. Sometimes, however, your only option is a USB port. Trains and planes generally do not have outlets for you to connect your device. If you really need to use the public USB connections, then consider investing in a data blocker to protect yourself.

Data blocker sticks allow you to charge safely from any USB socket with no risk of data transfer to/from your device. Simply plug your charging cable into one end, and the other end into a USB socket/charger. Make sure your data blocker is compatible with your smartphones, tablets, mp3 players, bluetooth headphones, or any other devices you might use.

With a data blocker, your device will not go into ‘data transfer’ mode when connected to a computer, so you can use a computer just like a charger. Here is one feature near and dear to my heart, it prevents those annoying syncing/popups I get when charging my phone from a car’s USB socket.

After reading about this, I bought a 5 pack for our office for slightly over $5 each.  (If I wasn’t afraid of getting sued, I would put the Mad Magazine Cheap?? Logo here 😊)  Instead, I opted for the picture of the data blocker I bought,

PortaPow Data Blocker for public USB ports

 

Many office PCs have their USB sockets disabled for security reasons. Your data blocker allows you to use it for charging without breaking security policy. Devices such as some Blackberry or Sony devices will not charge at all from many USB chargers, this enables charging.

The Data Blocker I bought has a built-in chip that detects the type of connected device and swaps between Apple, Universal and Samsung charging specifications. This prevents the blocker from slowing down charging.  In fact, it can increase charging speed if your USB port is sending the wrong signal, e.g. charging an iPad from a ‘universal’ wall adapter.

Watch for the limitations. Some devices are not compatible with extra fast charging technologies such as ‘Qualcomm Quick Charge’ ‘Samsung adaptive fast charge’ as these require data transfer to be enabled. Find out if your data blocker will power up at a high speed? Some satnavs/dashcams use a proprietary signal and will still try to enter sync mode unless their own charger is used.

Crosspointe Consulting Group, LLC is about more than just software.  Contact us to find out some of the many ways we help our clients at 877-357-0555, or by email at info@crosspointecg.com.