You’ve probably heard the term “juice jacking” by now. If not, juice jacking is when you plug a device, like your smartphone, into a public charging station at an airport or other public area. If the charging station has been compromised, there is a chance that a malicious party could be stealing your data or worse: installing malware or monitoring software on your device. For frequent pleasure travellers and employees that frequently participate in business travel, this could pose a serious threat. While the best way to counter juice jacking is to use a power bank or your own charger and cable in a separate wall outlet, that’s not always possible. Fortunately, there are secure USB cables that prevent data transfer while still being able to charge your device.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Our StarTech.com 1m Secure USB-C to USB-A 2.0 Cable review looks at a cable that only provides power charging capabilities to keep your data safe at public charging stations. Read on for our full review and see why it earned a Highly Rated badge here at Techaeris.
Table of contents
The Quick Take
With the recent FBI warning around “juice jacking,” bad actors using public USB ports in areas such as airports, hotels or shopping centers to steal data and potentially introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices, the StarTech.com 1m Secure USB-C to USB-A 2.0 Cable is one way to mitigate this risk. During our testing, it prevents data transfer — and even device detection — when connected to a computer while still charging. It’s long enough for charging but short enough to easily stow away in your bag if you are a frequent traveller. And it’s very affordably priced.
The StarTech.com 1m Secure USB-C to USB-A 2.0 Cable we reviewed has the following features and specifications:
- USB-A TO USB-C DATA BLOCKER CABLE: Charge-Only design without data pins provides physical data blocking, protects from data theft/corruption & leak prevention while stopping spyware/malware attacks on smartphones, tablets & battery powered mobile devices
- SECURE CHARGING CABLE: 3ft (1m) long cable to charge smartphones, tablets, headphones, and cameras anywhere, Ideal for high-security use in public, corporate, defence & educational environments
- VERSATILE CABLE: Secure data adapter cable delivers up to 5V at 2.4A (12W max), Works with all USB-A ports from host computers to wall chargers and charges USB-C-enabled devices
- ROBUST CONSTRUCTION: Durable Heavy Duty Rugged black TPE cable jacket prevents damage & fraying while Al/Mylar foil with braiding minimizes electrical interference; for on-the-go use with public charging ports in airports, shopping malls & hotels
- SPECS: Dimensions: 3ft (1m) | USB-A male to USB-C male Cable | Power: 5V, 2.4A (12W max) | Rugged TPE Shell & Jacket | Unique cut-away design shows secure power-only lines | Backed for life
What’s in the box
- 1m Secure USB-C to USB-A 2.0 Cable
As far as USB cables are concerned, the StarTech.com 1m Secure USB-C to USB-A 2.0 Cable is pretty standard-looking fare. It’s thin, plastic coated, about 1 metre (3.3 feet) in length. On one end is the USB-C connector while the other is the USB-A end. Here’s where it differs slightly from standard USB-A to USB-C cables. While most cables have a blue interior on the USB-A end, this one is red. As well, if you look closely, you only see two outer pins instead of the usual four (an additional two in the middle). The two pins present are the USB ground on the left and the USB Vcc (5V) on the right. The two missing ones in the middle are used for data transfer. As this is marketed as a secure cable, the data pins are not present which prevents the transfer of data when using this cable.
My only real complaint with the cable is I’m a fan of the braided styles for looks and durability. Then again, that’s just personal preference.
Ease of Use
Like any other USB cable, simply plug the USB-C end into your smartphone and the USB-A end into a charging brick or charging port.
Being a USB-C to USB-A cable, performance is somewhat limited. At the most, you’ll be able to feed up to 5V at 2.4A (12W max) of power to your device. Most smartphones these days support much more than that, but it is enough to charge your phone given enough time. During our testing, we were able to consistently max it out at around 12W with a few different smartphones. Unfortunately, don’t expect to be charging your USB-C laptop with this cable as the draw just won’t be enough.
Of course, I don’t have a known compromised charging station in a public venue to test with. However, the next best test is to use the cable to connect your phone to a laptop. With a normal USB-C to USB-A cable, when I connect my Pixel 7 to a laptop, I get a prompt asking me to “Select to choose what happens with this device.” In addition, I can choose on my Pixel 7 if I want to use USB for File Transfer/Android Auto, USB tethering, MIDI, PTP, or No data transfer. While the latter is the default choice (in most cases), I can easily select one of the others. Typically, I would select File Transfer/Android Auto to access my files, like photos, from my phone on my laptop.
With the StarTech.com 1m Secure USB-C to USB-A 2.0 Cable, the prompt on the laptop to “Select to choose what happens with this device” fails to come up. In addition, when I go into the USB Preferences settings, all the options are greyed out, meaning I cannot select any other option aside from no data transfer. Furthermore, my Pixel 7 isn’t even listed in the Windows 11 File Explorer in any way, shape, or form.
Based on these tests, I can confidently attest to the fact that when you are using this cable with your smartphone, it will charge it only and prevent the transfer of data from (or to) your device should a public charging station be compromised.
With an MSRP of $12.99, the StarTech.com 1m Secure USB-C to USB-A 2.0 Cable is a no-brainer if you frequently travel and are plugging into public charging stations to recharge your smartphone. It’s a small price to pay to add data protection to your device and for added peace of mind. Even better, you can currently save $1 on the cable if you purchase it on Amazon.
While simple, the StarTech.com 1m Secure USB-C to USB-A 2.0 Cable offers a Charge-Only design without data pins to provide physical data blocking, protection from data theft/corruption and leak prevention while stopping spyware/malware attacks. In our tests, it worked exactly as advertised, and will help mitigate the risk of the theft of your data while using it to charge your device in a public place. Based on its performance and price, it easily earns a Top Pick of 2023 Award here at Techaeris.
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StarTech.com 1m Secure USB-C to USB-A 2.0 Cable$12.99
- Easy to use
- Decent power draw
- Prevents data transfer
- Super affordably priced
- Can only really be used to charge smartphones (not laptops)
- Be nice if it was braided instead of rubber coated