A hack called BadPower can corrupt your fast charger and wreck your smartphone

    A vulnerability called BadPower can modify the firmware on some fast chargers. BadPower corrupts the fast charger and stops the chip’s firmware and the charging device from “agreeing” on a set voltage for the charging process.
    By HT TECH
    | Updated on Jul 21 2020, 10:51 AM IST
    BadPower doesn’t seem to be invasive like other malware and ransomware that steals data but it can corrupt a fast charger enough to physically destroy a device.
    BadPower doesn’t seem to be invasive like other malware and ransomware that steals data but it can corrupt a fast charger enough to physically destroy a device. (Pixabay)
    BadPower doesn’t seem to be invasive like other malware and ransomware that steals data but it can corrupt a fast charger enough to physically destroy a device.
    BadPower doesn’t seem to be invasive like other malware and ransomware that steals data but it can corrupt a fast charger enough to physically destroy a device. (Pixabay)

    Fast charging is so commonplace now that most of us will not buy a smartphone if it does not come with this piece of technology. For all those on the go, and also for those who use their smartphones as intensely as we do, fast charging is what keeps us up and going all day.

    Also read: Looking for a smartphone? To check mobile finder click here.

    However, while it is a treat to power up your smartphone at least a quarter of the way in a matter of minutes, like pretty much any tech, fast charging too can be used maliciously. And you know how that works right? If it can be done it will be done.

    Reported by ZDNet, a vulnerability called BadPower can modify the firmware on some fast chargers. BadPower corrupts the fast charger and stops the chip’s firmware and the charging device from “agreeing” on a set voltage for the charging process.

    Some of these fast chargers can push 20 volts while some devices can only safely accept 5 volts. By overloading a device with more voltage than it can safely handle can push it to burst into flames.

    To check this, researchers used a special device that was disguised as a mobile phone to corrupt a charger’s firmware. Researchers are of the opinion that phones, laptops etc that have been infected with the right ‘malicious programs’, BadPower in this case, can be used to corrupt a charger’s firmware.

    BadPower doesn’t seem to be invasive like other malware and ransomware that steals data but it can corrupt a fast charger enough to physically destroy a device.

    Researchers have found that out if the 35 fast chargers they tested, at least 18 were vulnerable to BadPower. Out of these 18, 11 of them could be corrupted via ‘digital terminals’. Digital terminals, in this case, are phones and other devices that support fast charging. The researchers did not reveal which companies these chargers belonged to.

    How does one stop this?

    Researchers suggest that manufacturers should add additional fuses to devices that can support lower voltage fast charging to prevent BadPower from settings things on fire. 

    For users, researchers say that phone chargers and power banks should not be shared with others easily.

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    First Published Date: 21 Jul, 10:51 AM IST
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