What’s a USB Condom?

Giggles aside, a USB condom can protect your data and thwart would-be hackers. 

USB Condom

Charging via USB without protection? You could be asking for trouble. 

Do you regularly stick your USB charging cord in strange slots? Then you better get yourself a USB condom.

While the name is a little unfortunate – and many simply call it a USB data blocker – this cheap, easy-to-use device really can save you a lot of hassle.

That’s because those public charging slots - common in the departure areas at airports, as well as hotels and other areas - can be dangerous.


How Your Data May Be Vulnerable & What to Do About It

Let’s take a closer look …

Why USB Charging Ports Are Risky

Through a process called “juice jacking”, hackers infect the USB charging station itself with malware, or simply leave their own infected device connected there.

Once you connect your own cord, the malware can then be transferred to your device – or perhaps even worse, data from your phone can be stolen by the hackers.

Because remember, that USB cord isn’t just a charging cable – it’s also used to transfer data. This could include logins, passwords, pictures, you name it.

How to Protect Yourself

Fortunately, these USB condoms keep you protected by preventing the flow of data. You simply insert your USB plug into the data blocker and then the data blocker into the port.

By sitting between the two and blocking the data pins on the plug, it allows you to charge your device, without data or information being unwittingly sent or extracted from your phone or tablet.

And the good news is, these USB data blockers are cheap.

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The top-rated model by PortaPow, can be purchased as a 2-pack from Amazon for only $14.99. It’s super small and portable too, taking up little space in your laptop bag, suitcase, purse, or pocket.

Need a Plan ‘B’?

But what do you do if you’re stuck at the airport now, with a smartphone battery that’s just about dead?

In that case, skip the USB slot and stick to charging via an AC adapter. Easy!

USB Data Blocker

Don’t be this guy.

Bonus Tips for Protecting Your Devices While Traveling

Here are a couple other tips to keep you safe while traveling – or if you’re simply using your device in a public space.

  • Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi – or Use a VPN When You Do

    Using a public Wi-Fi connection, especially one without a password – or with a password that’s easy to get, like your average coffee shop – is one of the easiest ways to get hacked. You can read more about it here, but the short and sweet of it is: either don’t use public Wi-Fi, or only use it when connected through a high-privacy VPN.

    NordVPN is a great option, given its industry-leading privacy features and affordable price.

  • Remove Sensitive Data from Your Phone

    Believe it or not, the agents at airports and borders in countries like the United States and Australia can go through your phone, including photos and social media profiles, without a warrant.

    You can try resisting, but it’ll likely lead to you being denied entry – or even detained. Some even worry that the TSA in the US might be scanning your phone remotely.

    Between this and the risk of hackers, it’s always a good idea to clear your phone and other devices of sensitive information when traveling, whether it’s risqué photos of your partner or embarrassing text messages.

    One of the best ways to do this is to shift these files from your phone, tablet and other devices into the cloud. pCloud is a great way to encrypt and save your more sensitive files into the cloud and away from prying eyes.

Last updated: March 6, 2020

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