Cybersecurity experts have warned you should never do it.
We’ve all done it – it’s an innocent request and is a normal thing to do but now it’s apparently a dangerous thing to do, with security experts telling us to protect our charging cables like we protect our passwords.
Charles Henderson, Global Managing Partner and Head of X-Force Red at IBM Security, runs a team of hackers that clients hire to break into their computer systems in order to expose vulnerabilities.
“There are certain things in life that you just don’t borrow. If you were on a trip and realised you forgot to pack underwear, you wouldn’t ask all your co-travellers if you could borrow their underwear. You’d go to a store and buy new underwear”.
He’s warned that since hackers have figured out a way to implant charging cables with malware which can remotely hijack devices and computers, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to borrowing chargers.
His team attempts to teach clients to be less trusting of third-party charging cables by sending them fake iPhone cables in the mail which are branded with something innocuous, ‘like a vendor or a partner that they have listed on their website’. They then see if the person plugs the cable in.
Although malicious charging cables aren’t a widespread threat at this moment in time, Henderson says this doesn’t mean we won’t see it in the future.
“The technology is really small and really cheap. It can get so small that it looks like an ordinary cable but has the capability and the intelligence to plant malware on its victim. These things are only going to get cheaper to produce and it’s not something your average consumer is going to be tracking to know when it becomes viable on a mass scale”.
One such product, the O.MG Cable was revealed in August this year.
The bigger threat is USB charging stations that can be found in public places such as airports, as there have been some instances of people modifying these charging stations. Henderson warned we should always be careful about what we plug our devices into, like we are when opening email attachments or sharing passwords.
“In a computing context, sharing cables is like sharing your password, because that’s the level of access you’re crucially conveying with these types of technology,” he added.
Yet more innovation from criminals. We live our lives through our phones and other gadgets and seem to openly embrace this technology without ever questioning it, only trusting it. Simple, but potentially catastrophic.
Keep up-to-date with your security measures and put in place further ID plans.
If you have to use public USB ports, invest a few pounds for something called a Juice-Jack Defender. It’s a little dongle you can put in front of your charging cord that basically blocks any data from passing down the cord. It only passes the voltage.