Great Lakes Geek Review

Porta Pow Data Blocker

Here's a typical scenario. Your cellphone (Android or iPhone) is low on battery and needs a recharge. Not to worry, there are plenty of public charging kiosks. Just plug into one of those at the airport or whatever and you are all set. What could go wrong?

Actually there is something called Juice Jacking that could be a security issue. In fact, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office issued an advisory to travelers in November 2019 warning them of the potential dangers of using public USB ports. In theory, bad guys could steal information or install malware via public USB ports. You don't hear much about it so it doesn't seem to be widespread but it is certainly technically possible. In fact it was discussed at the annual BlackHat computer security conference.

A UK company called Portable Power Supplies has an easy and inexpensive way to give you the added security you may need. The products is called the Porta Pow Data Blocker and it is now in it's 3rd generation.

3rd generation improvements include: Visible Security - The two data wires have been physically removed from the USB-A connector leaving only the two power wires. An inspection window has been cut to see at a glance that the wires for data transfer have been removed and Added Authentication - 'NO DATA' and 'PortaPow' have been laser etched into the connector so you can be sure its a genuine blocker.

Porta Pow Data Blocker

In a nutshell, the Porta Pow Data Blocker allows you to charge safely from any USB socket with no risk of data transfer to/from your device. Simply plug your charging cable into one end, and the other end into a USB socket/charger. It is compatible with smartphones, tablets, mp3 players, bluetooth headphones, and 1000s of other devices.

Porta Pow Data Blocker

According to the Porta Pow website, the Porta Pow Data Blocker"
  • Blocks Data Transfer - your device will not go into 'data transfer' mode if connected to a computer, so you can use a computer just like a mains charger. This also prevents data hacking and any risk of viruses being loaded onto your device when charging from an unknown/public USB socket, known as Juice Jacking. It also prevents unwanted syncing/popups, eg when charging from a car's USB socket.
  • Allows Charging - Many office PCs have their USB sockets disabled for security. This allows charging from those USB sockets without breaking policy. Devices such as some Blackberry or Sony devices will not charge at all from many USB chargers, this enables charging.
  • SmartCharge - Built in chip detects the type of device which is connected and swaps between Apple, Universal and Samsung charging specifications. This prevents the blocker from slowing down charging and can increase charging speed if your charger is sending the wrong signal, eg charging an iPad from a 'universal' wall adaptor.
As you can see in the pictures, it has a compact design, barely larger than a normal USB-A connector with a profile of just 18x11mm, so won't block neighboring USB sockets.

It's a UK company so the easiest way to buy is from Amazon. Follow these links. It may be overkill for some but if you use a lot of public charging stations, get a few for your gear.

Great Lakes Geek recommended.

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Dan Hanson, the Great Lakes Geek

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