There are a lot of advantages to cellphone manufacturers all agreeing to use USB as both a data port and a charging port. Chargers are now standard across most models instead of the proprietary nightmare of the bad old days, for example. But it has some drawbacks: Using a public charging station, or even just a friend’s computer, could put you at risk for loading malware onto your phone. Fortunately, there is a solution: LockedUSB.
And don’t be smug, iPhone users; you’re actually just as vulnerable, as malware has easily been stored inside Apple’s proprietary chargers.
LockedUSB actually is pretty simple in how it operates. USB ports have separate lines for power and data. You just slot LockedUSB into the charger, plug in your cord, and you’re good to go; LockedUSB just doesn’t have any pins for the data ports, so only the power gets through.
It gets better; not having the data ports connected means you can plug your phone into any computer and you don’t have to worry about your phone suddenly syncing up someone else’s contacts and MP3s. So pretty much anything with a USB port can now be your charger.
Finally, it has a chip to check what voltage you’re getting, and will optimize accordingly so that your phone will charge up quickly. That’s especially important as all USB ports and charging stations are not equal in terms of voltage; public stations in particular may be low power relative to your charging needs. So with this, you’ll be able to get a fuller charge faster, especially if you’ll need to run for the plane in a few minutes.
Currently, you’re able to get it at a good price from the Kickstarter: One LockedUSB charger is just a $14 donation away, and the project has nearly hit its goal.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.