Buying a connected car or house? Better get it wiped

Anyone who’s watched Top Gear may remember the episode where they bought used cars then had them inspected for biological matter left behind by the previous owners. The results weren’t pretty.

Well, CNN posted an article this morning about digital matter that can be left behind when you buy a used car that has connectivity options, and it also applies to connected houses. In short, the previous owners of both may still have access to them even after the sale has gone through.

For cars, you have to go to the dealership to have the connection broken. The article says that a factory reset will only reset the car and not the connection that might still exist through an app on a tablet or smartphone.

Details on the CNN site:

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Last time I rented a car, I saw leftovers from a previous user.

I switched off my Bluetooth and opted to charge off the 12V -> USB charger I’d brought myself.

Practice Safe Tech, kids.


Definitely makes me want to research the USB condoms I’ve read about.

No, seriously - it’s an inline device that basically only passes the voltage connections, breaking the data line. So an infected device could be used to charge, but your handheld wouldn’t be subjected to the malware.

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Can’t you buy power only USB cables? I could have sworn I have accidentally a couple times.

Yes, I have a few that came with chargers (before I discovered Anker products)

I think those are highly discouraged by the USB consortium because there’s no way to tell, visually, whether a cable is power or power + data. Obviously if it’s molded into a wall wart it’s power only, but anything else…can’t tell.

I was just going to go there - if you have a handful of cables, it isn’t easy to tell which ones are data-enabled and which are power-only.

So you’d need two, and some way to mark them reliably.

On the assumption you’d trust your own stuff… the USB “condom” would just be part of your travel kit, and you could just stock full-function cords, using the condom when attaching to an unknown device.

And I’ve seen proof-of-concept articles where the author embedded a thumb drive inside an Apple wall-wart. When you’re at an airport or coffee shop and you see the charger in the wall you hook up… --bam–he has your device.

The charge-only USB cables are generally kinda crappy. They’re ok for a bluetooth headset or ye olde flip phone, but they won’t pass enough power to charge a modern Android phone. I was fiddling with one last week - tested it with a brand new Anker charger with “Power IQ”, and my Moto X. After laying on the table for 15-20 seconds, the phone screen would come on, as if it had just been plugged in again. After 10 minutes, the battery was at 5 or 6 percent less charge than when I started. Then I threw the cable in the trash.

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Yup, I’ve got a couple of those, they’ve red ends and a black cable to make them stand out (PortaPow brand). Of course, they work by throwing all the standards out of the window, so don’t hook them up to anything that’s not a charger.

This charger? Mine is arriving tomorrow.

I’ve been super happy with this. And it has a flashlight that I’ve used more often than I thought I would.

I’ve had the Jackery 7800 mAh version for almost 3 years now and I’ve been happy with it, but it doesn’t support fast charge so my kids will inherit it. Plus the new one has 3.4 times the capacity so it will last me through some marathon robotics regionals where unused wall outlets are very rare.

Yeah, mine does have the fast charge, and I got two for my wife and I at GenCon last year, along with orange cloth braided charging cables so we were styling it running cables from bag to pocket.

I think I got two or three charges off it at a time. And it charges pretty darn quick itself.

I also got a six port table top charger that is smoking fast. I need like three more.

I used this one when it came in last week

I also bought this one last week

I got tired of the one I use by my computer disappearing when step-children were around, plus I wanted an upgrade from the slow-ish BlackBerry charger I had there.

I have had these two in the truck for a while, in the back and front seats

I also have a 5 port non-Anker in the truck, hidden away in a cubby, with two 10’ cables running to the back seat, and two 6’ & one 3’ accessible in the front seat. I bought the 5 port car charger before Anker had one available, which they do now. The two Anker chargers in the truck are in for if someone needs to plug in an Apple cable, and also to run my nifty courtesy lights:

I have this one in my backpack

I keep one of these on my nightstand and another in a toiletry bag I use when I travel

On the portable battery front…
This lives in my backpack

and this one is currently in my truck, but is sometimes (esp. summertime) in my backpack, too

I have myriad Anker cables, and a few other Anker chargers (wall, car, and portable), including a couple that I’m fairly certain that my step-son absconded with, which is fine, more or less.

I envy your supply of chargers. You obviously have a lot of devices to charge or an obsession with USB chargers - I can’t figure out which applies here.

Having said that:


This is my baby.,

I need at least one more, though maybe with not as many ports.

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LMAO! Thanks!

Probably a little of both… I have 3 phones, 3 bluetooth headsets*, and a tablet, plus wife has a phone and a headset**, and we both have portable chargers and bluetooth speakers. So yes, a lot of devices, but I since I like to be able to plug in wherever I am, and not need to run across the house if a phone rings, I have cultivated a nice collection of charging paraphernalia.

OK, so maybe I like gadgets. You don’t want to know how many printerers I have - it’s obscene.

*No, I don’t use them all at the same time (well, usually don’t)… Work phone, personal phone, old phone I only use for Ubering; old & new Plantronics Marque earpieces, both with dual connect (work & personal / Uber & tablet), and a LG 760 bluetooth stereo earbuds thingy that I mostly use with the tablet.

**…which she forgets to charge, so rarely uses, but that’s a whole other issue

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The first two I linked to are really good deals, even better if you catch them on Amazon’s ‘Today’s Deals’ page, or sign up for Anker emails, which occasionally have discount codes.

I know the feeling. :wink:

Yeah, old house and outlets usually aren’t close enough to something worthy of setting a device on to charge. I need the 5ft power cord, then USB outlet style. I’ve seen some interesting ones for desktop use that would work on an end table but I’m afraid to leave the small rectangle space and take the plunge into USB port as art zone. Especially since I 'm pretty sure the more interesting baseis to hide the crappy charger.