Tuesday, July 19, 2011

H2O and USB

  1. Vitamin Water is offering USB ports to charge mobile devices in bus shelters in various US cities.
  2. This is in support of their "ad positioning" as an alternative energy source.
  3. There is supposed to be nothing but electrical power being supplied by these ports.
While the pseudo-altruism of free electricity is somewhat appealing, and perhaps borderline clever as well, it is quite apparent that there is more here than meets the eye. It would be nearly incredible if for every USB session initiated by electron-hungry consumers, there weren't some kind of Trojan, Worm, or Virus being initiated and/or installed.
As we've known for most of recorded history, tanstaafl - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - and there ain't no such thing as a free charge either.

Just who is behind the applications being installed, and to whom will data be delivered? We'll have updates here as soon as more data becomes available.

Posted by Listener 43


  1. I understand your concerns, Listener, but you have to remember that USB connections go both ways. This may actually be a data gathering effort - something that all the best advertisers are doing, trying to get more information on their customers, fans, and evangelists so they can deliver the most relevant information in the most appropriate setting to the maximum number of their customers.

    It's something Google does better than probably anyone else with the possible exception of Apple where Steve Jobs is busy mapping the travels of all the iPhone and iPad users so he knows where to put his next store, and when they're going to need new batteries and so forth.

    It's not necessarily evil, but keep digging because it just might be!

  2. There should exist usb data blocking adapters to prevent data transfer beyond the, "OK Device Connected power up", function of USB. Should be easy to make oneself too.

  3. Excellent idea, that USB data transfer blocking device. When you have schematics, please feel free to post here!