Sign up to our newsletter
The latest security news direct to your inbox
Plugging your smartphone in to charge up could soon offer an alert that you’ve contracted malware – with a new charger that lights up when it detects malicious software.
Within two minutes, the Skorpion charger displays a red light if it detects malware on any Android device. The device, produced by Kaprica Securityin collaboration with Belkin, is in pre-production, with no firm release date or price set.
It could provide a “last line of defense” for companies against employees “bringing their own” infected devices into the workplace.
Gadget sites such as Gizmodo pointed out its similarity to the “Mactans” malicious charger unveiled at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas this year, which could infect iPhones with malware in under a minute.
Security apps such as ESET’s Mobile Security protect against malware, but Kaprica’s device may find a place in enterprises where many employees “bring their own devices”, and often refuse to have them audited by IT. An expert from security body ISACA estimated that around 30-40% of smart devices in any business “fly under the radar”.
Providing employees with chargers which warn IT administrators of threats could solve this problem. Kaprica aims to start selling the device to enterprises, according to the MIT Technology Review.
“IT admins can see at a glance what network threats have been detected on any scanned mobile devices,” Kaprica says, boasting that the system offers. “Easily adjustable notifications so that administrators can be made aware of compromises as quickly as possible.”
Speaking to MIT, Kaprica cofounder and CEO Doug Britton said that the Skorpion charger analyzes your phone’s operating system files directly, without “asking” the phone’s OS, which may allow it to root out deeply buried threats.
The scan begins as soon as the phone is plugged in, with a “deep scan” complete within six minutes. Administrators are notified via a dashboard if there are problems.
“In as little as 2 minutes you’ll know if your mobile device has been infected with malware,” Kaprica says. ”In as little as 6 minutes, a deep scan reveals malicious changes to your OS.”
Speaking to the MIT Technology Review, Xuxian Jiang of North Carolina State University said that the device might have limitations, as it does not scan the phone while a user actually makes calls or uses apps – actions which can deliver malware – and that there is no “silver bullet” for all mobile malware.
Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security