USB cables and chargers are everyday must-haves. Whether it is to connect your phone to the music system, transferring files to another device or just for charging. When our phones are running low on the battery we never think twice before borrowing chargers from others.
But it could be the biggest pitfall for your device. Because you never know the quality of their USB cables and USB adapters.
According to an article by TechCrunch, a hacker was able to access the phone’s data through a simple iPhone USB lightning cable. They manipulated the cable and added a small Wi-Fi enabled implant that let hackers run commands from a nearby device or within the Wi-Fi range. A hacker who goes by the online name MG made these implants where he claims that he gave utmost attention to make them look like the original ones.
Wondering, if it had already happened to you? Well, if you ever bought a cable from a shop which is not selling legitimate products or is just an unknown shop around the block, then there are chances they might’ve sold you so-called “MG cables”. As soon as you plug that cable to your device, hackers can access your data and easily transmit malicious payloads on your device. They can even send phishing pages to your screen, lock or even steal your data.
MG attempted to implant firstly in iPhone cables. But anyone can use these implants in any cable to target whoever they want. In one of his interviews, MG said that “Most people know not to plug in random flash drives these days, but they aren’t expecting a cable to be a threat.”
Why it is necessary to avoid fake USB cables and chargers?
If we look at the basic operation of any cable, it has one particular job to do: supplying your device with power. The cable isn’t the only part of a phone charger. There are various other parts inside that charge your phone without damaging it. Like a regulator. This part notifies your USB adapter that your phone is full and doesn’t require power any further. Also, make sure you are not constantly overcharging a battery as it will shorten the lifespan of any device.
When you opt for the fake chargers, it draws too little power to your device. Some chargers will show that your device is on charging, but after an hour when you check, all it did was just indicate that it is charging. It didn't actually pass any power to your device.
All this can put your battery and to some extent your device to risk.
How to Avoid Buying Fake USB cables and chargers?
Take Care of Originals
The original chargers are the ones which would go a long way. Therefore, always carry them with you to save the day in case of emergencies.
Some tips on taking good care of your original charging cables:
- Unplug only by the head
- Use surge protector
- Keep it away from moisture
Consider the Input/output Levels
When you are considering another charger, it is important to check these things first. Usual chargers accept an input level of 100-240 V. So, plugging it to an outlet or another source above this range might destroy the charger. Plus, look for the output levels. If your battery needs 4.2 volts for full charging, you need a power adapter that can reach this level. An adapter with a capacity of 3 V will charge your batter but at a slower pace.
Next, check the amperage. Usually, smartphone chargers can accommodate an output of 1 A. If a device requires less than 1 A, it will only pull what it needs. In case your adapter’s capacity is, for example, up to 500 mA, and if you charge your device with it then chances are it might damage your device.
Check Out the Certifications
There are certain certifications that show a manufacturer’s commitment to meet the regulatory standards of a particular area. CE certificates fall into that category. Additionally, RoHS certifications state that a product does not contain harmful materials.
Additional Tip for iPhone Users: Look for the ‘Made for iPod’ logo whenever buying any peripherals for your device. This logo is Apple’s licensing program for the manufacturers developing peripherals for Apple.
Do Precise Comparison
Never go by their external looks and body. The fake ones would always look like the original ones. They might be showing the same brand name with certifications. But it might not have all of them which real one offers.
Consider checking their weight. Tap on the product to listen to how they sound. These steps are necessary to take when you think that you might’ve purchased a fake one instead of the original one.
An Important Check
It is important to have at least a 9.5 mm gap between the edge of the pin and the charger. To check this, you can use any ball-pen as they have 9.5 mm points. After doing it make sure that it plugs correctly and does not have heating issues. As it may lead to damage and fire issues.
So, next time you go cable shopping make sure you are bringing home only the legitimate ones. Of course, using the original branded company charger is the number one solution to the ‘fake cable’ problem. Other than that, look for reliable sources that sell authentic merchandise. That includes online stores as well as retail stores.