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A company by the name of Int3.cc has just introduced what they are calling USB Condoms, a small device that goes on the end of your USB plug to protect your data from “juice jacking”, which is when someone is able to steal your data through a public charging station.

Since most phones are set up to allow data transfer just by connecting to a USB port, the USB Condoms work by blocking the data transmitters and receivers of a USB port without blocking the charging components. Public charging stations, while seemingly innocent, often use USB ports that support data transfer. The chances of you running into a nefarious charging station may seem miniscule, but it only takes one instance of data theft or malware installation to ruin your day. Think of it like an ATM skimmer; even if the charging station is legitimate, your data could still be siphoned.

USB-Condoms

If you carry extra user-replaceable batteries with you or have a regular outlet plug, you don’t need to worry, but unfamiliar USB ports should be used with caution. It’s not always clear exactly who set them up or where the connection goes. Of course, a USB Condom could help calm your fears if you’re desperate enough to charge up at a public station.

The USB Condoms are currently sold out on Int3.cc’s website, but they state that they should be getting more inventory soon.

Will you picking up a USB condom when they get back in stock? Do you usually avoid public charging stations? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: Int3.cc Blog

  1. Fik of borg
    September 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    This should come not as an add on adapter but standard as a microswitch on the connector itself.

    • Guy M
      September 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      I like this idea - a little switch in the connector, like the write-protect switch on a USB flash drive. Nice one Fik!

  2. Wookie
    September 19, 2013 at 1:54 am

    You say to short the wires by untying them off toward the end. Shorting means to tie them together so that they "short" out. Is this what you mean? They should be connected together?

  3. Ed
    September 18, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    To Joseph Z: So I'm not allowed to worry about more than one thing at a time? Who knew?

  4. Joseph Z
    September 18, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    OMG, Some guy comes out with a gadget that can access your phone though the usb port and everyone freaks and thinks that they are going to fall victim to this, INCREDIBLE. Now other people are coming out with ways to take your money by selling you cable you already have but with less wires. WOW. Maybe you should be worried more about the NSA getting access to all the stuff on your phone wirelessly than connecting your phone to one of these devices. You already unknowingly give away more information from your phone because you left the WiFi turned on.

  5. Alan Burnstine
    September 18, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    You can buy charge only cables, but knowing in advance whether they are wired for fast charge or not is hard to determine. Some will claim it in the description but I have heard plenty of stories about cheap ones from China just having the charge wires, but not having the data wires shorted.

    As far as tools, a wire stripper, a knife, and some electrical tape is all you need.

    Alan

  6. Meena B
    September 18, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    i agree with Alan Burnstine, it's not really an invention. i bought once a cheap usb cable and it turned out to only have the two wires of charging, so when it's connected to pc, it's only charging and not detected as a USB device

  7. Alan Burnstine
    September 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Instead of paying $10 for this device, you can easily convert any spare USB cable into a charge only cable, and take advantage of fast charging in the process. Open the insulation, short the data lines (the green and white ones) back toward the device (just cut them off back toward the source). Seal the cable with heat shrink tubing or some electrical tape.

    Shorting the data wires back to the device tell it that it is connected to AC power rather than data and can draw as many amps as the device is capable of (usually ~1 amp for a phone, 2.1 amps for a tablet) instead of limiting the draw to .5 amps, as well as protecting the device from being mounted by whatever is supplying the juice.

    This is a great solution for car chargers as well since virtually all of them I have tried don't properly supply more than .5 amps even when labeled 2.1 amps because they don't short the data lines.

    I had a small USB pig-tail that I modified to use with any USB cable so I could do this for devices that used mini and micro USB without carrying multiple separate charge and sync cables.

    • Justin D
      September 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      That's brilliant! Although I think a lot of people (myself included) don't have the tools or skills to open up a USB cable and tinker around like that. It might be a good idea to sell entire charge-only USB cables, yeah?

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