VoltSchemer Alert: Hackers Could Turn Your Wireless Charger into a Fire Hazard, Warns New Research

Your wireless charger could be a fire hazard if hacked, new research warns. Scientists at the University of Florida and security company CertiK have discovered a clever cyberattack that can manipulate how your wireless charger powers your phone.

By attaching a tiny $10 device, hackers could trick your charger into delivering dangerously high amounts of power. This could cause the phone’s battery to overheat or even explode!

The researchers call this a “VoltSchemer” attack. Here’s how it works: Your charger and phone talk to each other to figure out how much power is needed. But the hackers’ device can spoof signals from the phone, fooling the charger into juicing up your phone beyond safe levels.

The flaw lies in the wireless charging process itself. Your charger sends energy to your phone through magnetic induction. To stay safe, the charger checks on the phone’s battery level and temperature. But this system is unsecured, leaving it open to disruption.

The researchers tested many popular wireless chargers and phones and found all were vulnerable. They even built their own VoltSchemer device to prove the concept.

While the attack may not be widespread yet, it demonstrates risks many consumers overlook with wireless charging. The convenience comes with potential for abuse if protections are not improved.

The researchers responsibly disclosed the flaws to manufacturers. But they recommend users take precautions like avoiding public chargers and keeping chargers away from flammable materials. Encrypting communications between chargers and devices could also help secure these devices.

For now, beware putting blind faith in the safety of wireless charging. As with most new technologies, safeguards must evolve to match emerging vulnerabilities. We may need to trade some convenience for peace of mind.