Certified Security Operations Center GmbH

24. May 2024

Manipulated Smartphone Charging Cables: An Underestimated Danger

Smartphones have become an indispensable part of our daily lives, relied upon for communication, organization, and more. But inevitably, they need to be charged. Nowadays, it’s easy to plug in the charging cable and continue using the device. But what if the familiar charging cable we use daily is manipulated? You might think it’s impossible, but recently, exactly that happened. In this article, we’ll explore manipulated smartphone charging cables: how they work and the potential damage they can cause.

In a recent incident, two individuals posing as suppliers installed manipulated charging cables at a customer’s premises. Installing such a cable takes just seconds and can be done discreetly. Upon closer analysis in this instance, we determined there was no immediate harm caused by the manipulated cables. However, this could have had serious consequences for the company, as the attackers could potentially have gained access to sensitive corporate data.

How tampered charging cables work

The functionality of manipulated charging cables involves altering the cable itself to include malicious components or software capable of compromising the connected device. These modifications can range from physical tampering with the cable’s internal components to embedding small devices or chips that intercept data or inject malware into the connected smartphone or device. Once connected, the manipulated cable can facilitate unauthorized access, data theft, or allow remote control of the device by malicious actors. This method exploits the trust users place in everyday accessories like charging cables to surreptitiously compromise device security.

Possible damage

The consequences of such manipulation can be devastating. Attackers could extract personal data, steal passwords, install spyware, or even take full control of the device. In a corporate network, such cables could be used to access sensitive company data, cause operational disruptions, or compromise the entire network.

To avoid such incidents, companies should implement a range of security measures. These include:

  • Implementation of airlocks: Airlocks are security systems controlling access to specific areas within the company. They allow only a limited number of individuals to access at a time or restrict access to authorized personnel only, helping prevent unauthorized entry into sensitive areas like server rooms.
  • Visitors: Access to company premises should only be granted after thorough identity verification and clarification of the purpose of their visit
  • Hardware: All devices connecting to the company network should undergo scrutiny for potential manipulation. Firms should establish clear guidelines for device use at the workplace, allowing only authorized and clearly labeled charging cables and devices.
  • Awareness: Regular employee training sessions are essential for recognizing and appropriately responding to suspicious activities.
  • Routine checks: Companies should conduct periodic security audits to ensure no compromised devices are present within the network.
  • Utilization of supportive software: Employing security software can aid in detecting and preventing unusual activities.
  • Preparedness for emergencies: Businesses should have an Incident Response Plan ready to activate in the event of a security breach. This plan should outline steps for identifying, isolating, and remedying the issue effectively.


The threat of manipulated charging cables is real and can equally jeopardize businesses and individuals by compromising device and data security. Therefore, it is crucial for both companies and users to be proactive. Ultimately, conscientious and responsible actions are necessary to ensure the security and integrity of our digital infrastructure. Stay vigilant.