BadPower Attack

Fast Charging is a popular feature with most of the smartphones that let users charge their batteries faster than normal. The Fast Charging works by increasing the voltage and thus charges batteries faster than normal.

Fast Charging technology has emerged in recent years, a large number of chargers, charging treasures, car chargers, and other products supporting fast charging technology.

BadPower Attack

The fast charger is completed by one end with power supply and another end of the charging cable is the power receiving end.

When both ends power supply terminal and the power receiving terminal is connected with the device, then negotiation will occur, and then power supported by both parties will get supplied.

These processes are handled by firmware that stored in the fast charge management chip at the power supply terminal and the power receiver terminal.

The fast charger protocols include power transmission and data transmission functions, some devices have built-in read and write functions but they are lacking security checks.

By taking this as an advantage attackers can change the code that controls the power supply behavior in the fast charging device, they can change the default 5V power supply to 20V.

Chinese security researchers from Xuanwu Lab tested 35 of the fast charges, at least 18 of them had BadPower problems.

Two possible attack scenarios;

  1. The attacker uses a special device disguised as a mobile phone connected with a charging port to invade the firmware of the charger, then if a user connects with a hacked charger power overload attack will get performed.
  2. The attacker invades the user’s mobile phone, laptop, and other terminal devices in some way and adds malicious programs to perform BadPower attack when the hacked charger is used power overload attack will get perform.

To note the BadPower Attack doesn’t result in data leakage, but it destroys the user’s digital device. The demand for fast charging products is growing, so there is a chance for a number of users to get affected.

By issuing an update the device manufacturers can take measures to repair BadPower problems, normal users can avoid this attack by not giving your own chargers, power banks, etc. to others.

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