BadPower, the virus that burns your phone due to overload

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We have seen and covered many viruses here. In fact we almost go out to malware per week. From the adware bombs to the dreaded Ransomware that hijack your device and don’t let it go until you pay the ransom or format losing everything.

But not all viruses are designed for the same things, in fact they can serve different purposes than those that we usually have associated with them. And we have a (fearsome) example of this with the virus based on the BadPower security problem, which can literally ‘fry’ your mobile.

Fast Charging on mobile

The first USB chargers only supplied a small amount of power and took several hours to fully charge the phone. Today’s fast charging technology can provide at least 20V and 100W of power. In these last 2 weeks, we have seen several Asian manufacturers present their new fast charging solutions for smartphones, under the premise of charging a complete mobile battery in just 15-20 minutes.

Obviously, the energy stress to which the battery and terminal are subjected are enormous, which is why these Quick Charge technologies undergo many security checks. The fast charging operation is performed on the side of the power supply, the charging cable and the receiving side. When the power supply side and receiver side are connected via the charging cable, they will first negotiate a power communication.

When a “mutually acceptable power level” is agreed, the power supply will supply this power to the receiver. A program runs both at the source and at the receiver to negotiate power and control the charging process.

This program is usually stored in the firmware of the fast charge management chip on both the offer side and the receiver side. But the risk is there, and Tencent Xuanwu Labs’ team of experts in China has discovered a “new type of security problem in some fast-charging products,” a virus they have dubbed ‘BadPower.’


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