Public USB ports for charging - watch out!

mrincredible

I see these more and more when I travel, and it seems a lot of places like Dunkin Donuts are installing outlets with USB charging ports built in. As the article points out below, plugging your phone directly into a public USB port carries some risk of picking up unwanted malware.

https://lifehacker.com/stop-using-public-usb-ports-to-charge-your-phone-1839906505

I try to remember a portable external battery to top up my phone when I travel. Also, no risk in recharging the external battery on the public USB port, since it doesn't have memory itself.


Heynj

Do you mean sites like the multiple-charger machines that are stationed throughout Overlook Hospital? Now I see them in some local libraries, too. 


mrincredible

Heynj said:

Do you mean sites like the multiple-charger machines that are stationed throughout Overlook Hospital? Now I see them in some local libraries, too. 

 Theoretically since you don't see exactly what those cables connect to you're at risk. I was thinking more of the ones in airports (or Dunkin Donuts) where you plug in your own cable. Presumably they're just a dumb power connection but again, you can't see what they're connected to.

I think that's the jist of it. You're connecting a charge/data port of your pocket computer to an unknown charge/data connection. The article says be cautious and take some measures to protect your device. One commenter mentions getting a charge-only cable as a solution.


joanne

I walk around in such a bubble that I haven't noticed any such 'convenience'. It's all I can do to find handy power points! 

I always have my own portable cables and hubs though, charging as I walk etc. Just like I have my own pens. cheese 


cramer

Deleted.


Tom_Reingold

Carry a so-called USB condom. It carries the charging leads but blocks the data leads on the cable.


mrincredible

Tom_Reingold said:

Carry a so-called USB condom. It carries the charging leads but blocks the data leads on the cable.

Awesome Tom thanks! It's 7 bucks.

Unless of course it has malware loaded on it itself...  oh oh

You could give yourself a headache thinking about it. Flash memory is so compact now it's easy to imagine malware hiding out in just about anything you could connect to your phone. Even in the actually lightning or USB-C connector itself.


Tom_Reingold

It shouldn't be too hard to test that the device does what it purports to do. Try passing data through it. You can't.


mrincredible

Tom_Reingold said:

It shouldn't be too hard to test that the device does what it purports to do. Try passing data through it. You can't.

Oh Tom I'm just goofing a little.

My point was you could sell this device to block data from the USB port, but you could build a small flash chip into the actual device that would then load malware onto whatever you plugged into it.


Tom_Reingold

I'm severely lacking in the humor skill of responding in a way that I keep the gag going and acknowledge that it's a joke. For some reason, I come off serious a lot of the time.




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