USB Cable: Friend or Foe?

The "evil" USB cable that can remotely accept commands from hackers. (Photo Credit: Mike Grover/Twitter)

USB Cable: Friend or Foe?

Ever find one of those spare USB cables lying around your office and don't even remember buying it? Or have you ever been to one of those hotspots and needed a quick charge for either your phone or laptop? Well the next time you do, think of this. Mike Grover, a colleague and security researcher, has demonstrated that even USB cables can be booby-trapped with security exploits, provided that the attacker is relatively close by. Grover hand-developed the cables using a CNC milling machine he bought used and several thousand dollars of his own money to develop this cable to show just how easy it might be to steal your personal information.

Grover’s USB-to-lightning cable was fitted with a Wi-Fi chip inside one of the sockets, so unsuspecting users will think that this “typical” cable is safe to use with their computer or cellphone. Since the cable will appear as a normal USB cable, the computer will think it resembles a keyboard or mouse.

Grover told PCMag, a global magazine technology leader, that he plans to produce more “malicious” USB cables to educate the public on the dangers of hacker attacks. “Showing attacks in an engaging way allows a wider audience to be aware of threats,” he told PCMag. “Getting this cable into the hands of other researcher[s] allow new uses and attacks to be explored. In the end, it leads to improved security."

So the next time you scroll by a hotspot, think twice before you connect.