I'd like to know if it is possible to figure out if the USB charger of my smartphone (more info below) contains any operating system or firmware which could be infected by malware.

Let's assume I charge my smartphone with my USB charger:

  • How can I figure out if there is any firmware inside of that charger which might be infected by malware?
  • Could the charge be infected if I use it to charge a malicious device (e.g. an infected smartphone)?
  • Could the infection spread subsequently by charging other devices?

I use the following charger:


A similar model is this one:


  • Your other question about the same topic has been closed and included a link to another question with answers. Did you read those?
    – PasWei
    Jul 31, 2022 at 20:52
  • 1
    I don't think that link directly addresses this question. The real questions here are "Do USB chargers have firmware?" (sometimes?) and "Is there a data link in a (legitimate) charger that can convey malware?" (probably not)
    – user10489
    Aug 1, 2022 at 11:20

3 Answers 3


Many USB chargers are completely passive and are only a power supply with no cpu in them. These have no firmware in them and it would not be possible to infect them with malware. These are all 5v and detect resistors on the data lines to determine what maximum current to supply.

Advanced chargers may actively negotiate a higher voltage and current with the device, so the data lines are actually used. However (presuming a legitimate charger), it is unlikely that the data lines are used in a way that would allow transmitting malware to the charger, and even more unlikely the charger contains anything writable that could store malware.

However, if a charger says it has upgradable firmware, and it doesn't check signatures of what is being uploaded to it, anything is possible.

Also, it would be possible to construct a "charger" that intentionally tried to manipulate the device it is charging. Answers linked in the comments address this possibility.


You need to tear it down or find something related for your charger online. Then you need to identify parts in the charger. Some manufacturers provide firmware updates. Some contain small ARM processors including ROM. There is a specification for USB power delivery firmware updates. If it can be updated then you can potentially flash malicious firmware though those are more likely targeted attacks.

  • While this does contradict the other answer, it is true that in some new chargers like the Pixel Charger there is something like an CPU in those "programmable" chargers, but I think they're still rather very primitive and do not have the capabilities to do that kind of damage I think? What you could do is add condensators or similar electronic components, which in end could be combined (I'm not that good with electronics) to cause a shock to the USB device. I heard there are protections in newer devices though Aug 1, 2022 at 19:32
  • It doesn't really contradict. I said "unlikely" not "impossible". The new USB standards are getting more and more complex. If a charger takes a firmware upgrade, then there could be an issue there. I'd hope the manufacturer only allows signed firmware to be loaded but who knows...
    – user10489
    Aug 2, 2022 at 4:50

Chinese researchers at Tencent have already figured this out in 2020 and come up with a new attack named “BadPower”, which, by altering a fast charger’s firmware, delivers more power than the charged device can safely handle, thus destroying the device and potentially causing a fire.

  • While BadPower is the result of a rewriting of a charger's firmware, I don't think this is the type of malware suggested by the Question.
    – schroeder
    Oct 24, 2022 at 15:35
  • This contradicts the other answer, because this states that these devices DO indeed have firmware, who's right?.. Oct 24, 2022 at 16:09
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    There's many devices. Some have firmware some don't. If the firmware is upgradable and the device doesn't check signatures to make sure the upload is legit, anything is possible.
    – user10489
    Oct 24, 2022 at 22:51
  • @SirMuffington the article linked explains the firmware difference and how it applies. But like I said above, this is not the type of malware infection and spreading that appears to be relevant to the OP's context.
    – schroeder
    Oct 25, 2022 at 7:39
  • @schroeder: OP does seem to be interested, hence the chain of 3 question bullets. The answer could do a better job of answering the question rather than merely mentioning interesting relevant research.
    – Ben Voigt
    Oct 25, 2022 at 19:06

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