How Does a USB Data Blocker Work?
PROMOrx works with the most innovative tech companies and cybersecurity experts from all over. One of our recent clients investigates financial crimes. She uses a data blocking USB personally and said she doesn’t understand why more people don’t know about data blockers and use them--especially business travelers.
Do you hyperventilate when your phone battery dips below 10%? Us, too. And it explains the mad dash to the charging stations when you’re out and about.
At every turn there are free charging stations: airports, coffee shops, restaurants, convention centers, meeting rooms, hotels.
Why not plug right in and charge right up?
Here's why: plugging in to charge exposes your device to malware or puts data at risk of being compromised.
Cyber hackers install a tiny computer into public charging ports so when you charge,your phone's data is surreptitiously downloaded. It is commonly called "juice jacking." Your bank account login information, email accounts, social profile passwords, photos and text messages can all be transferred to the cyber hacker in a matter of moments.
Cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs was writing about ‘juice jacking’ back in 2011! Security researchers set up a charging station at a hacker’s conference in Las Vegas. Close to 400 people plugged in their phones to charge. No malware was installed nor data stolen. This charging setup was to make a point: Protect your data.
In 2014, Brian Krebs was back sharing Gear to Block Juice Jacking on mobile devices. He mentions the USB Condom (sold retail, with no case) . These devices BLOCK the data pins while allowing the power pins full capability.
How do USB Data Blockers work?
A data blocker is a small but powerful adapter that forms a block between your mobile device and the charging station. Think of it as a coupler that allows for power to pass through while preventing an exchange of data. (yes, we ordered data blockers branded with OUR company logo!)
How to quickly test a USB Data Blocker
- Using your charging cable, connect your phone to your computer USB port without using a data blocker. The phone icon will appear on your computer. You can transfer data between computer and phone.
- Then insert the data blocker into your computer and your charging cable into the data blocker. You will not see the phone icon indicating the data blocker is working.
If the phone icon does not show up, the USB data blocker is working and your data is safe.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR DATA
(and align your brand with safety and security!)
- Use the power cord that came with your device that plugs into a regular AC outlet. Data can’t be transferred via electrical outlets so you’re safe from malware or data transfer. CON: especially in busy airports, train stations, etc., an AC outlet isn’t always available. Go to option 2.
- Carry your own portable charger/power bank with the connectors needed for your devices. (How to choose portable power banks in the next blog!) For now, check our curated selection of branded power banks.) Carrying your own portable chargers means you don’t have to rely on public charging stations that could be compromised.
- Never borrow a cable/connector or pick up one from a charging kiosk or laying in the coffee shop. There are cables that can juice jack, too.
- Keep a USB Data Blocker or Data Condom or Data Stopper with you. One of our clients said using these for booth giveaways, people lined up telling them 'the best trade show giveaway.' What conference? THE Black Hat Conference. And of course, the data blockers were branded with their company logo. Another client hands them out to all their employees, on the road or not.
Back to the title question: Do you have to choose between safe data and fast charging? No.
Buy a data blocker.
To align your brand with safety, security and all around smarts, customize the data blockers with your company logo. (BONUS: the PROMOrx recommended data blocker comes with an information insert and is available in aluminum (most are plastic). Not all on the market offer this. Details matter!)
Align your brand with the latest safety and security standards
One of our clients said that he had people lining up telling him - the branded data blockers - were "the best tradeshow giveaway item" they ever received.
Blogger: Vickie, the opinionated and oh-so-well-versed-on-tech, PROMOrx owner.
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