Author Topic: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?  (Read 2092 times)

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Offline ehmen

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Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« on: January 11, 2023, 08:02:42 PM »
Can the following items be hacked:
- USB adapters (like this, or this)
- USB A/C/Micro cables
- Charging bricks

Note: the question is not about public charging stations, there is an answer for that already. The question is just about whether there's anything to be concerned about from a security standpoint when buying an adapter, cable, or charger from Amazon, Walmart, Newegg, or anywhere else.

Offline DavidR

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Re: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2023, 10:07:05 PM »
Personally I would have 'thought' not, as they don't have any memory storage and processor as such to execute code.  That would have to be done from the other system and executed on your system.

Quote from: Extract from article
Public charging stations are ideal if your phone is low on battery. Unfortunately, research has shown that they also have the potential to be useful tools for hackers.

This is because USB charging stations can also be designed to both inject malware and steal data from anyone that uses them.

So potential not actual and I believe the other remarks also apply to cables, etc...
Quote from: Extract from article
Juice jacking is possible because of how USB ports are designed. On a phone, they are primarily used for charging but they are equally suitable for transferring data. This means that whenever you plug your phone in to charge, you are also potentially opening the door to data transfers.

Quote from: Extract from article
It's considered a potential threat, not an actual threat, because most phones now ask permission before data transfers are initiated.

You have to consider that the threat isn't from the cables/charger as such but the source (computer) executing code (providing the juice) to make any transfer and execute commands to be run on the target system.  Don't lose site of the fact that the target system could/should have its own protection Avast (presumably) in your case.

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Offline ehmen

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Re: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2023, 01:05:22 AM »
You have to consider that the threat isn't from the cables/charger as such but the source (computer) executing code (providing the juice) to make any transfer and execute commands to be run on the target system.
But in the case of juice jacking from a public port, it's going directly from the port into the phone (via a cable as a conduit). But that wouldn't necessarily mean that the cable/adapter/charger itself can hold the "juice" until such time that it's connected to a phone/PC whereupon it will deliver it. In other words, the problem with public ports (that you're using for reference) may only be becasue the device is actually connected to the hacked port, but if you only stuck a wire into that port without anything on the other end, would it become infected itself? I'm not so sure that's the case. What do you think?
« Last Edit: January 12, 2023, 01:08:12 AM by ehmen »

Offline DavidR

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Re: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2023, 01:46:20 AM »
That is why I mentioned the cable/device would have to have some form of storage and a means to run a script to deliver it.

Plus why would that get past any security that you have installed.
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Offline ehmen

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Re: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2023, 01:58:27 AM »
Plus why would that get past any security that you have installed.
That's a secondary point. The main thing is - is there such a concept as adapters/cables/chargers being able to be hacked (it being different than public ports notwithstanding).

Offline DavidR

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Re: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2023, 02:43:18 AM »
Sorry but we are going round in circles here.

Concept or otherwise, that doesn't discount what else was mentioned in the previous two posts I made.
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Offline ehmen

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Re: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2023, 02:49:49 AM »
Concept or otherwise, that doesn't discount what else was mentioned in the previous two posts I made.
Thank you for your input.

Offline polonus

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Re: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2023, 02:57:13 PM »
Not in the sense that 'they" are smart, again they could be in a physical sense.
Plug-and-play CNC can, because they are rather small.

Look-out for hanging cables on your porch or balcony.

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Offline bob3160

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Re: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2023, 01:49:27 AM »
Not in the sense that 'they" are smart, again they could be in a physical sense.
Plug-and-play CNC can, because they are rather small.

Look-out for hanging cables on your porch or balcony.

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Offline ehmen

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Re: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2023, 04:29:46 AM »
...again they could be in a physical sense.
Plug-and-play CNC can, because they are rather small.

Look-out for hanging cables on your porch or balcony.
I don't understand. Please explain.

Offline ehmen

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Re: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2023, 12:39:31 AM »
@polonus

Offline DavidR

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Re: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2023, 12:48:05 AM »
Its a play on words/joke (I believe), a hangman's noose a length of rope with a loop at the end.  Substitute the rope for a length of cable, watch out for hanging cables/rope on your porch/balcony.
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Offline ehmen

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Re: Can USB adapters, cables, or chargers be hacked?
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2023, 05:37:58 PM »
Its a play on words/joke (I believe), a hangman's noose a length of rope with a loop at the end.  Substitute the rope for a length of cable, watch out for hanging cables/rope on your porch/balcony.

What is:
Plug-and-play CNC can, because they are rather small.