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USB 'condom' protects your dongle from infected ports

The USB Condom aims to protect against "juice jacking," in which data can be stolen or malware uploaded when you plug into a USB port.

This image, posted at int3.cc, illustrates how the USB Condom cuts off data pins, so only power flows through.

This image, posted at int3.cc, illustrates how the USB Condom cuts off data pins, so only power flows through.

Plugging into strange ports can get you into trouble. So why not carry around a layer of protection?

That's the thinking behind the USB Condom, a product that applies the lessons from your high school health class to your high-tech devices. According to the creators at int3.cc, the USB Condom cuts off the data pins in a standard USB cable, preventing any data from transferring in either direction. All that's left are the power pins, so you can plug into whatever port you please with reckless abandon.

The USB Condom is supposed to protect against "juice jacking"--the idea of stealing data or uploading malware when an unsuspecting user plugs into a USB port. Hackers began talking about juice jacking a couple years ago, and while it's largely a theoretical threat, security expert Jonathan Zdziarski recently wrote that he has seen these attacks in the wild before.

In any case, strapping on a USB Condom could provide peace of mind if you're looking to top up your smartphone on someone else's computer or a public USB charging station.

The USB Condom is not an entirely new idea. In 2009, designer Ko Yang came up with a concept "USB Condom," and the product renderings were posted on Yanko Design. However, itc3.cc's version appears to be a real product; it will be sold starting on September 16, and while the price isn't listed, Fast Company reports that it will be "priced very very cheaply."

In the meantime, you can achieve the same results as the USB Condom by picking up a charge-only USB cable. They sell for around $8 on Amazon.

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