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A cable you can buy protects you from 'juice jacking,' but you don't need it

The OSOM Privacy Cable seems like a good idea, but save yourself $30 and use what you already own.

Published onJune 22, 2023

  • The OSOM Privacy Cable protects you from “juice jacking” at public USB outlets.
  • However, few public outlets support USB-C, and you must remember to flick the switch.
  • It would be much easier to save $30 and use a traditional wall plug instead.

Recently, the FBI sent out a warning about “juice jacking.” This term refers to criminals accessing smartphone data through publicly accessible USB outlets. Essentially, you plug your phone into an outlet at an airport or train station, but instead of just getting a top-off for your battery, a rogue device in the outlet steals your data.

In response to this, OSOM — the company spun off from Essential’s demise — has released a solution. The OSOM Privacy Cable, shown above, is a $30 USB-C cable with a built-in switch. A flick of the switch forces the cable to shut down all data streams, which means your phone will only get power from a public outlet. In other words, if there is a rogue device in that outlet that wants to steal your data, it would be thwarted by this cable.

On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer purchase, especially for folks who do a lot of traveling. However, fundamentally, it’s an over-engineered solution to an easily solved problem.

First, the safety efficacy of this cable assumes that you remember to flick the switch in the first place. If you don’t, you’re just as in danger with this cable as you would be with any other.

In addition, this cable is USB-C to USB-C. While we’d love it if most airports and train stations supported the USB-C standard, that’s simply not the case. In most areas you travel, at least in the US, you will need a USB-A plug for public outlets.

Finally, the OSOM Privacy Cable is $30, which is a lot. When you combine the price with all the other issues, why buy this? The juice jacking problem can be easily solved with what you already own: just use a traditional wall plug at all public outlets. This will ensure your device only gets power from the outlet, doesn’t require you to remember to flick a switch, and ensures you’re getting the fastest speeds your device supports.

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