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iPhone Charging: Prevent data theft when using unknown power sources

Posted on by Mike Evans

NOTE: These cables are recommended for use with mains-powered chargers and for the iPhone mainly. They may not work with iPads or portable charging batteries.

If your smartphone runs out of juice halfway through the day it's tempting to use a public charging point or, even plug it in to a convenient socket in a cafe. But how can you be sure that the smart Lightning cable attached to your iPhone isn't also trafficking your data to nasty people?

Hacking of public charging points is depressingly common and, if you are unlucky, the criminals could be sucking all your data out of your device — or, even worse, implanting a virus to keep tabs on you in future. It also isn't unknown for power points in public places, for instance cafes, to be compromised.

Data transmission is built into all mainstream Lightning cables and, of course, there are times when you really need this. But most of the time the Lightning cable serves the simple purpose of charging the device. It's all I need 99 percent of the time. Allowing data transmission can be annoying, for instance when you connect to a computer and iTunes pops up automatically. Similarly in cars you often want to charge the phone without entering into a fruitless two-way conversation with the in-car entertainment system.

Dumb but cute

Fortunately there is an answer — a dumb cable that permits charging but bans data transfer. It's probably something you've never thought about but, one of these days, it could just save you from a nasty hacking experience. There is a number of such devices on the market but my favourite is the PortaPow which carries a little label to remind you that it is "For Charge Only." Lest we forget. The PortaPow offers fast charging at up to 2A but blocks all data transmission. To my mind this cable is something you really ought to keep with your phone at all times. In fact, unless you really need data transmission, it should be the default choice for charging.

You can find the PortaPow here at Amazon.

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