USB Condom to Protect Those Engaging in Risky Business
The jokes practically write themselves, as evidenced by the number of writers who have pounced on the news of the release of the yet-to-be-priced “USB condom.” int3.cc, the makers of the device, have been described as serving up a “dose of marketing brilliance” as the media races to report on the “prophylactic dongle,” as The Register humorously labeled it.
The USB Condom works, well, like a traditional condom, only you’re preventing computer viruses instead of STDs, eliminating the risk of “accidental data exchange” instead of accidental…you get the idea. in3.cc’s contraption brilliantly blocks only the data pins in your device, while allowing power pins to still receive a charge.
It’s really a remarkable time to release such a product, with news of solar-powered charging stations popping up in New York City and worldwide. The convenience of being able to grab a quick charge on the go is certainly attractive to most smartphone and tablet users, but the convenience for hackers to access, infect, and steal from those devices is just as high.
Charging stations have proven to be extremely vulnerable to having tiny hacking computers secretly installed inside of them. Many recommend not using them at all, for fear of becoming a victim of what’s being called “juice jacking.” Ryan Whitwam at ExtremeTech writes:
In the wrong hands, the data from your phone is more valuable than the phone itself, so there is plenty of motivation for the bad guys to pursue juice-jacking. May the gods of USB have mercy on your data if you plug into a public USB port within 50 miles of the annual DefCon security conference in Las Vegas. This is a place where using public WiFi or ATMs is extremely risky.
The puns related to the USB Condom are increasing in number with every new column written about it, but int33.cc has perhaps the best one, as well as some great advice for all of us: “If you’re going to run around plugging your phone into strange USB ports, at least be safe about it.”