Does everyone need a USB condom?

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A USB condom is a simple device. It can turn a USB port into a charge-only port and it does this by blocking all the data lines to reduce the attack surface for any hacker trying to do damage.

Protects against juice jacking, USB Killer, and Bad USB attacks

USB condoms have limitations, but they can protect you from some attacks. And there has been a myriad of cybersecurity breaches in 2020 with more expected in 2021.

In 2019,  everyone was talking about “juice jacking” which is a cyber attack that involves a charging port that doubles as a data-connect point. This attack can be carried out by either installing malware or copying sensitive data from an iPhone, tablet, or another device. 

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A USB Killer is exactly what it sounds like. It can fry an entire device. Instead of a flash memory chip, it is adapted with capacitors and a DC-DC converter that alters the voltage level of direct current. This deadly combination will destroy the average USB port and anything attached to it.

BadUSB is actually a type of attack where USB stick firmware is inserted in your device and is recognized as a keyboard, a network adapter, or almost anything else.

Do it yourself USB condoms

On the USBCondom.org site are plans for three different types of USB condoms that you can build yourself.  

  • A basic data blocker, the USB_CONDOM_V1 is quick and easy to assemble.
  • A more sophisticated USB_CONDOM_V2.2 allows you to switch between charge to data transfer modes.
  • The smartest version is the USB_CONDOM_V3.0. It features anti-USB-killer features to prevent your devices from being fried in a USB Killer high voltage attack.

The good news is that the odds of experiencing a juice jacking attack or running into a “bad actor” that is using a USB Killer are very, very low. But if you ever use public USB ports for charging your devices, you may want to get a USB condom. It’s just a little extra protection in uncertain times.

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