USB ports are ubiquitous on our electronic devices as a way to charge them and transfer data. But they’re also an easy entry point for malware or other nasty viruses.
Enter the USB condom. These prophylactics for your digital devices are plugged to the end of a USB cable, and allow electricity to flow through while preventing data from being transferred or accessed. People seem to be fascinated by them.
This tweet by British technology lawyer Neil Brown about a two-pack of data blockers he bought on Amazon is testament to that (note the retweets and likes)—they even piqued the interest of legendary sci-fi writer William Gibson:
USB condoms: for charging from an untrusted USB port (train, plane etc). Allows power but stops data / sync. pic.twitter.com/HsOEPl5V4d
— Neil Brown (@neil_neilzone) November 5, 2016
A two pack of the attachments costs $12.49 on Amazon, and they’re touted as removing the risk of hacking or contracting viruses when a device is plugged in to public USB ports, or computers that a user can’t vouch for. The device also speeds charging by up to four times, claims its maker, a company called PortaPow.
USB connectors contain pins that transfer data or electricity. Removing the data pins means only electricity gets transferred when a connector is plugged in. You can even make your own with a bit of soldering.
First appeared on Quartz