These days, the majority of smartphones come with fast charging technology. The idea behind the tech is that it will offer a major boost in power input that will quickly juice up your smartphone in a short period of time compared to regular or standard charging. Of course the tech is a bit more complicated than that.
Inside these chargers there are essentially mini computers that help make all these calculations to ensure that there is just the right amount of power that is still safe, but it looks like researchers from Tencent’s Xuanwu Labs have figured out that there could be a way to exploit this by making it output more power than normal.
Dubbed BadPower, this is an attack that modifies the software used by these chargers so that the amount of power that it outputs reaches dangerous levels. This means that in theory, it could cause a phone to overcharge to the point where it overheats, starts smoking, and then catch on fire or explode.
Based on their tests of 35 models that are available in the Chinese market, they found that 18 models from eight different vendors were vulnerable to this attack. In some cases, the attack is relatively easy to pull off as all the attacker would need to do is load the BadPower malware on the phone and it will execute once it is connected.
All the vendors whose chargers were vulnerable to this attack have since been notified, so now the onus is on these vendors to patch their devices to ensure that they are no longer vulnerable.