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Need to Charge via USB in a Public Place? Be Sure to Pack a USB Condom

Posted on September 16, 2013 10:50 AM by Rob Williams
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When on-the-go, it’s sometimes challenging (or impossible) to find a way to charge your mobile device. This is especially true at the airport, where there are only so many power sockets to go around, and usually, they’re being used by someone else. To help reduce this problem, many public places, including airports, have installed USB charging stations – a rather brilliant move given all of our mobile devices can plug into them. But – do you know the risk of plugging your USB stick into a port unprotected?

If you’re in dire need of a charge, and I allow you to plug your device into my notebook, what’s to stop me from milking the data off of it? Not much (assuming the device is powered on, of course). So what’s different about the public plug you might spot at an airport? There could very-well be PCs behind these things that are designed to pull data off of any device that’s plugged in. It seems outlandish, but let’s not overlook the leaks that have come out about the NSA these past few months. Nothing surprises me anymore.

USB Condom

The solution to this problem is USB Condom, a simple piece of PCB that acts as a proxy between your device and the port. It works be severing the wires that transmit data, while leaving the ones responsible for power. Yes – a product with one of the most eye-catching names ever is truly simplistic at its heart.

Still, this is a cool idea, and probably necessary the way things are going.


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