Let’s be honest, not all of us are using the original USB cables that came with our phones and tablets when we bought them. Maybe it is lost, or maybe one cord just isn’t enough. Cords are cheap online, so why not grab a few extras? As it turns out, not all cables are created equal. Some could be used to steal your information.
How Can a USB Cable Be Dangerous?
Cables seem like pretty basic items, and it seems odd that an item without an electronic “brain” could pose a danger. Remember, though, that USB cables can be used to transfer data as well as charge hardware. If you want to put a picture from your phone onto your computer, you could plug it in and copy it over.
This same functionality could be used by bad actors to trigger a data transfer any time you use that wire in a device – even at a public charging station. You would assume that because it is branded as a charging station, that is all it does. But there is no good way to check if your wire is trying to do more. Some devices will not initiate data transfer without a confirmation prompt on the device, but that is not always the case. The only way to be sure your data remains safe would be to use an adapter that disables the data wires in the USB, allowing it to charge only.
USB Data Blocking Adapter
One inexpensive product that can protect you from unauthorized data transfers is a USB data-blocking adapter. It is a small dongle you place between your wire and the charger (or other devices) with the data wires removed so that it can only charge your device.
PortaPow (available at Amazon) is a trusted name in data-blocking technology, but neither I nor the library receives any compensation for mentioning them. No matter which brand you use, make sure there are no data wires at the end that plugs into the charging device.
If you are using after-market cables or public charging stations, it’s a sensible safety precaution to use a USB data blocker. At under $10 per adapter, this is one of the least expensive ways to secure your data. Do you use a USB data blocker? If so, let us know in the comments.