To USB or Not to USB


USB Security – Charge Safely with USB Protection, or Kill a Car

Charge with Protection

With USB charging ports everywhere, when you plug in your phone to charge it in an airport or taxi, how do you know your data is protected? USB supports both power and data, so it’s possible your data is being transferred off while your phone is being charged.  You can also see these quick charge stations at conferences and airports where you actually lock your phone in a locker for 20 minutes.  There’s no regulation on these stations so there is no way to know who’s providing these stations.  (Personal note: Probably not the Russian Mafia in most cases).


Enter PortaPow: PortaPow provides Data Block adapters.  Essentially, it only providers the physical connections for power.  The pins/connectors are missing for data, making it physically impossible to actually get to the data ports so they can hack your phone (or tablet or Type-C PC).  You can protect your phones with this tiny adapter.



If you want to use your existing cables which support both data and power, you can buy these adapters.

Also, you can use”Charge Only” cables also which do the same thing. If you do, you need to carry an additional cable for this purpose. So the adapter has some advantages in size and dongle management.


An additional benefit is that if you want to charge your phone, in someone else’s computer, you can use this adapter, and it won’t try to synchronize with that computer.   (It used to drive me crazy when I would plug my iphone into my PC and it would try to sync, and I didn’t want it to do anything).


This device does not protect against USB Killer (as far as I can tell).  . It will help protect your phone from data theft through USB.


Reminder: USB Killer looks like a USB Flash/Thumb drive and plugs into a standard host port on a PC, TV, game console, set top box (you get the idea),  It accumulates 5V, 1-3A power, and generates a negative 220/240 Volts, sends it back through the Host port to fry the system.  And it will totally fry the system.  (This is great if you hate your college roommate.)


Clearly, the next product for PortaPow to build should be something that stops USB Killer.


USB Killer kills a Car.


Most cars have a USB Charging port now. So USB Killer said, let’s plug this into a Car and see what happens. According to the commentary, the Dashboard and the Radio died (were killed).  You have to take their word for it because they don’t actually show they didn’t

I guess they didn’t want to show a car killing in action. Too upsetting.


Obviously, they should have had 2 cameras, one GoPro with wide-angle showing the dashboard, radio and insertion, and a close up with a Mobile phone showing the actual insertion.


This means the’d need to actually kill, and then revive a car. Not being sure how much of the care they’d actually kill, I’m sure I wouldn’t want to attempt this.


Here’s the video and a link to the website.



Finally, here’s a link to a much older blog talking about how you can hack a microprocessor based USB flash drive to steal info.




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