BadPower attack corrupts fast chargers to melt or set your device on fire

 

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Chinese security researchers said they can alter the firmware of fast chargers to cause damage to connected (charging) systems, such as melt components, or even set devices on fire.

The technique, named BadPower, was detailed last week in a report published by Xuanwu Lab, a research unit of Chinese tech giant Tencent.

According to researchers, BadPower works by corrupting the firmware of fast chargers — a new type of charger that was developed in the past few years to speed up charging times.null

A fast charger looks like any typical charger but works using special firmware. This firmware “talks” to a connected device and negotiates a charging speed, based on the device’s capabilities.

If a fast-charging feature is not supported, the fast charger delivers the standard 5V, but if the device can handle bigger inputs, the fast charger can deliver up to 12V, 20V, or even more, for faster charging speeds.

The BadPower technique works by altering the default charging parameters to deliver more voltage than the receiving device can handle, which degrades and damages the receiver’s components, as they heat up, bend, melt, or even burn.

BADPOWER ATTACK IS SILENT AND FAST

A BadPower attack is silent, as there are no prompts or interactions the attacker needs to go through, but also fast, as the threat actor only needs to connect their attack rig to the fast charger, wait a few seconds, and leave, having modified the firmware.null

Furthermore, on some fast charger models, the attacker doesn’t need special equipment, and researchers say the attack code can also be loaded on regular smartphones and laptops.

When the user connects their infected smartphone or laptop to the fast charger, the malicious code modifies the charger’s firmware, and going forward the fast charger will execute a power overload for any subsequently connected devices.

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