I rebooted my phone while it was connected to the PC and saw a notification about a failed device installation. Looked up the text and the code, and it turns out my phone exposes a certain way to update its firmware right after reboot for a short while. The data was transferred by the phone to the computer, and there's an entry about what device appeared for a second, and it's different from the phone's normal info, visible in the same registry folder.

Normally though you see in guides about changing a phone's firmware that you need to hold special keys for several seconds to enter debug mode. So this uninvited exposure of another device ID doesn't seem right.

So that got me thinking: Is it possible to modify a phone's (or tablet's) firmware or otherwise do something unexpected by user if you connect it to some random bus station's USB charging port and reboot?


2 Answers 2


In addition to the risk of phone can be booted to ADB (Android Debug Bridge) or CLU (Command Line Utility) there is a bigger risk in connecting to unknown USB connections as follows:

USB is much more capable of being used to steal data, as it is already designed to transfer data as well as provide charge. When a mobile device connects to a USB port, it attempts what is known as a "handshake," at which time some data is transmitted. "Even when a mobile phone is in 'charging only' (locked) mode, it can still transmit the device name, vendor name and serial number to the system behind the USB port, and more based on the platform and operating system of the phone".

Source: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/free-charging-stations-can-hack-your-phone-heres-how-protect-yourself/

That’s why there are recommendations on not to use public charging points where the risk of being hacked is high. And it is not recommended to unlock and use the phone while charging, and to utilize proper encryption when possible.


Theoreticly it's always possible as long the USB Ports are not Monitored or setup to use only well known predefined Devices. But... i assume u are using an Android Smartphone. In this case, on boot it starts with ADB, which is intended for manufacturer to fully reset the phone or update or or or. It could bee seen like booting a PC which starts with BIOS/UEFI Post and then boots your system. So in nearly all cases it's not a problem to reboot your Phone connected to PC or reboot the PC.

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