When you’re out, and your phone’s going to die, a charging kiosk could be a lifesaver. However, what you consider a safe harbour for charging your phone, could also be used to steal your data.
We’re talking about ‘Juice jacking’, a technique hackers employ where they modify charging kiosks to run or install malicious code in a phone that’s plugged in for charging.
To protect yourself against this, you can use a small device called a USB Data Blocker. In this article, we’re going over what a USB Data Blocker is and the top seven you can buy.
What is a USB Data Blocker?
As you can probably guess by the name, a USB Data Blocker restricts any source from accessing any data from your phone and only allows power for charging to go through. This is done by removing the data pins from the final port that plugs into your phone and only letting the power pins through.
Most cables have four wires in them, two for data transfer and two for charging. A data blocker only lets the charging wires through, restricting communications access in the process.
If you have a cable that only has internal wiring for power, that’s basically a data blocker as well. While most good cables will have four wires in them, some of the cheap aftermarket ones can have just two.
Do you need a USB Data Blocker?
If you travel a lot and find yourself using public charging kiosks en route, you might want to invest in a USB data blocker to avoid getting attacked by a cyber-criminal.
In the potential case of Juice Jacking, the charging kiosk is usually modified by an attacker to inject malicious code onto your phone as the port for charging a phone is often the same as the one used for data transfer.
This is where the data blocker comes in handy. By removing the data wires from reaching your phone physically, a data blocker makes it impossible for an attacker to infiltrate your phone even through a wired connection.
Also read: How practical is a smartwatch in daily life?
Top 7 Data Blockers you can buy
Here are the top seven USB data blockers you can get your hands on right now and charge while travelling or in public places safely.
PortaPow Fast Charge + Data Block USB Adaptor
Brand: PortaPow | Price: $9.49
The first item on our list is the PortaPow Fast Charge and Data Blocking USB adaptor. This adaptor takes a standard USB type A power cable and removes the final plug’s data wires.
There’s even a smart chip inside that can regulate current and voltage –depending on your device — to help you get the best charging speed possible.
Also read: Sandisk Ultra vs Sandisk Extreme
Solnoi Electronics Data Blocker
Brand: Solnoi | Price: $5.99
Next up is another similar product from Solnoi, except it’s black in colour and a lot less flashy than the PortaPow one. There is also no smart charge chip in the device, so you’re only going to get standard USB charging speeds.
Fortezza USB Data Blocker
Brand: Fortezza | Price: $6.76
Another smart charge capable USB Data Blocker, this product comes in a beautiful matt black finish. This works exactly like any other data blocker, except the manufacturer claims that you’ll get charging speeds up to three times faster.
AT&T Fast Charging Data Blocker
Brand: AT&T | Price: $11.09
If you were looking for a data blocker from a familiar brand, look no more. AT&T’s data blocker not only comes with a smart charge chip to help your devices charge faster, but you’re also getting a beautiful white finish along with a pretty cool looking light ring on the top.
PortaPow Pure USB Data Blocker
Brand: PortaPow | Price: $9.66
Another data blocker from PortaPow, this one comes in an all transparent finish but with no smart charge chip, so don’t expect your device to charge super fast, but at least you’re safe.
PortaPow USB-C Data Blocker
Brand: PortaPow | Price: $9.66
Most devices you’d charge when on the go will be USB C. With most of the Data Blockers being USB Type A, this becomes a problem. Well, PortaPow has a solution for you with it’s sleek, dongle-like Type C data blocker. However, there’s no smart charge chip in this one either.
JSAUX USB Data Blocker
Brand: JSAUX | Price: $11.99 (Red), $13.99 (Black)
If you’re looking to pick up several data blockers for use with multiple cables, you can get a better deal than this. You get four well-made data blockers in black or red.