Think Twice Before Borrowing a Phone Charging Cable

man charging cell phone

You know the feeling. You’re travelling and your phone is low on juice. Desperately, you search your bag for the charging cable you always keep there—only to remember you lent it to your friend last week and never got it back. What to do?

And then, a stranger appears out of nowhere, with a friendly smile and a charging cable in hand asking you if you’d like to borrow it. What should you do?

If you choose to say, no thanks, you made the right choice. Cybersecurity experts are warning against using a stranger’s charging cable or even borrowing one from an airport official or front-desk concierge at a hotel.

Why You Shouldn’t Borrow a Charging Cable

Charles Henderson, global managing partner and head of X-Force Red at IBM Security, warns cyberhackers can easily implant charging cables with malware to hijack mobile devices and computers. This can spell disaster for the desperate traveler who graciously accepted the spare cable from a fellow passenger and plugged in their phone or laptop. These compromised cables can be used to remotely access the device and are available on the Darknet for just $200 each.

Unlike most scams aiming for as wide a target base as possible, using a charging cable to hack a victim’s device can only be pulled off on one victim at a time. Lucky for us, this means the charging cable hack isn’t as widespread yet. Henderson warns the relatively inexpensive technology for the hack and the fact that it’s so easy to make the cable look innocent could mean an upsurge soon.

For now, it’s best to be aware of this threat and practice caution when travelling.

Your Best Bet

To avoid falling victim, always pack an extra charging cable in your handbag. If you forgot to take one or you can’t seem to find it, purchase a new one to use while you’re away. You can find charging cables in almost any convenience store for under $10—a small investment for your safety.

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