What is a USB Data Blocker
A USB data blocker is a small device the has a male USB connector and a female USB connector that you can plug into any USB outlet and stop data transfer. The device does allow power to be transferred though allowing you to charge your phone without any data being exchanged.
If you plug this into a computer and then plug a phone into it the computer wont be able to read that a phone is plugged into the data blocker.
Why You Need a USB Data Blocker
If you plug your phone into a USB port you don’t control then it is possible for an attacker to access the data on your phone or upload malware to your device. This type of attack is called “Juice Jacking”. This type of attack is not rampant in the wild but it still does pose a threat. Here is a good article that gives you some more details about “Juice Jacking”.
The attacker could leave a charging plug laying around hoping that an unsuspecting victim will pick it and plug their phone into it causing their phone to be uploaded with malware or data to be downloaded. Or the more likely scenario an attacker changes the outlet of a public USB port with their malicious device and they get random victims.
A USB Data Blocker Prevents Juice Jacking
Using a USB data blocker wont allow malicious data to be uploaded into your phone. Even though you are not likely to experience a “juice jacking” attack it’s really not worth taking the risk of your phone being infected. Think about all of the information your phone has. You probably do banking on your phone and send sensitive emails with your phone. Your phone is a very important device to your life.
Where to get a USB Data Blocker
As you can see in the image above you can grab a $4 USB Data Blocker from FiveBelow. I tested this one myself and it works just like it should. You can buy a USB Data Blocker on Amazon anywhere from $5 – $12. For such a cheap device it’s worth it to just buy one and not be at risk for this type attack.
USB data blockers are cheap and effective devices for protecting you from being the victim of a “juice jacking” attack. These simple devices are great a tool in your cybersecurity efforts. Getting them for your employees to use with company phones is a great idea, especially if your employees travel on a regular bases. Even though this not a common attack it can be a targeted attack. If the attacker is aware of your location and your movements, then they could cause your phone to lose battery life though another attack and hope that you will plug your phone into a USB port they have pre-staged. While this is unlikely unless you are a high level target, it’s never worth it to be the random victim of a “juice jacking” either.