The charge of the portable brigade

Does your smartphone’s battery run out at all the wrong times? These portable chargers and battery packs will keep you powered up, always

Asupercharger that can juice up your phone in 30 seconds? No, we kid you not. Eesha Khare, an 18-year-old Indian-American science student based in California, came up with the idea of a small, portable device that you plug into your phone, and in less than half a minute, your phone battery would be fully recharged. Khare won the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award in May because she didn’t want her smartphone dying on her. Currently, Khare is working on getting the device ready as a commercial product. But if you are not too picky about the half-a-minute deadline to charge your phone, here’s a selection of new portable chargers that can revive your phone battery anywhere, anytime.
Devotec Fuel Micro Charger


A nifty looking emergency backup, the Fuel doubles up as a keychain and is about the size of a Rs.10 coin. Its 220mAH battery is designed to give you around 20-30 minutes of talktime or a few hours more of standby. The battery can be refuelled with its supply cable or any micro-USB wall charger and it can store the charge for a month if unused. After getting successfully funded on Kickstarter (a crowdfunding micro-investment platform), the company is about to start distributing its first batch of pre-orders.

Launches in October.
Order at for $26.98* (around Rs.1,700).
TYLT Energi Sliding Power Case


Now here’s a case that would not only protect your phone from life’s bumps, but also give it a 9-hour talktime boost. The stylish TYLT Energi Sliding Power Case comes with an inbuilt rechargeable 2,500mAH battery to power your phone throughout the day. The case protects your phone from scratches and bumps and lets you charge, sync, transfer data and listen to music easily. All this with barely 9mm added thickness to your phone. Once you plug in the power case, it fully charges your phone first and then charges itself. It takes about 8 hours to fully charge both the phone and the case. Launched in August, the pack comes with two cases, a black and a coloured one to change according to your mood.

Available for iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy SIII; Galaxy S4 cases launch in October.
Order at for $99.99.
Port Solar Charger


Launched early this year, this elegant solar charger from XD Design latches on to any windowsill to refill itself directly through the sun. The port’s 3.3-inch diameter has five small LED lights which light up green when it’s fully charged. The device’s integrated USB charging cable folds on its side. When fully charged, for which it takes about a day in the sun, the port can supply 1,000mAH of juice to any of your smart devices. But be aware that its size is not enough to fully charge any smartphone, so it’s best used as an emergency top-up charger.

Order at for €59.59 (around Rs.5,100).
ZENS Wireless Charging Cover


This case wirelessly charges two of the most expensive and popular phones in India, the Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhone series. Launched in June…

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Hacking: How to deal with the menace

The ways in which people can get at your private data, and how you can prevent it.

At a conference in July, researchers from the Georgia Tech Information Security Center in the US demonstrated how an iPhone can be hacked in less than a minute using a malicious charger. Though Apple claims to have fixed the issue in iOS7, the popularity of smartphones makes them tempting targets.
“The vulnerability in a smartphone does not come from its system, which is an efficient and power-saving design,” says Sriram Raghavan, digital security and forensics expert,, a site that is also working on a security-related project with the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. “The vulnerable element comes from the market place, from the tempting third-party apps or widgets you install on your system.”
The Mobile Threats Report, released by networking equipment manufacturer Juniper Networks in June, makes similar observations. According to the report, mobile malware threats through malicious apps grew at a whopping 614% between March 2012 and March 2013. There are about 276,259 malicious apps out in the mobile marketplace with almost 92% of them on Google Play.
“A hacker will use any hole in your smartphone or in your lax behaviour to attack you and install a spyware on it,” says Rakshit Tandon, who is a cybersecurity expert and a security consultant with the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI). Once the hacker gets inside a smartphone, he can change and create emails, texts, SMSs, videos, photos, notes and credit and debit card information.
Here are some ways in which hackers can try to get malicious software into your smartphone’s system:
By asking
Apps can ask for permission to access phone data. Ask why a note-taking app needs GPS access, before clicking “Accept”.
According to a 2012 study, Pausing Google Play, conducted by Bit9, a US-based mobile security firm, 72% of Android apps (they studied more than 290,000 apps) ask for permission for at least one thing that can prove high-risk for your mobile’s security.
Secure yourself: Always read the permissions list before you install an app and tie it back to the app’s features. Be especially wary of apps that ask for your permission to make phone calls, send SMSs, reveal your identity or location.
By installing a repackaged app
If you’re jailbreaking your phone to install paid apps for free, then you’re also making it vulnerable to fake and rogue apps. According to a 2012 study, the Android Malware Genome Project, by the State University of North Carolina, US, 86% of Android malware uses a repackaging technique wherein the hacker downloads a popular app, decompiles it, puts a malicious code into it and then puts it back on the Play Store as a free copy of a popular app.
Secure yourself: Don’t jailbreak your phone or install any unofficial apps, especially if they look like free copies of popular premium apps or have names like “Silly Birds” or “Fruits Ninja”.
Through Bluetooth
Do you have a habit of keeping your Bluetooth on while you are on the go? Bluetooth hacking is easy with software like Super Bluetooth Hack or BlueScanner—these search for Bluetooth-enabled devices around them and try and extract contacts, email IDs and messages from unsecured phones.
Secure yourself: Keep the Bluetooth off at all times when not needed. It will save your battery as well as data. If on, keep it in non-discoverable mode.
By emailing/texting a malicious link
The old phishing trick on emails has come to the mobile phones through malicious links embedded in MMS and SMS. Think twice before clicking that link or opening attachments you weren’t expecting. Even though it might appear genuine, a SMS or MMS from a friend’s phone could be a malware.
Secure yourself: As a rule, do not click on any attachment on the phone. Use your laptop for clicking open attachments or links. Install security apps that can scan attachments and block a link if it looks suspicious.
By offering you a free wireless hot spot
A hacker might offer you a free hot spot in a public place and use the same network to hack into your phone while you browse and read everything you send across the network. Last month, two security experts hacked into a femtocell, a device that boosts wireless signals indoors, to prove that hacking of your smartphone through wireless is as easy as less than $300 (around Rs.18,200) and by using the right technique. “Getting inside a wireless network is surprisingly easy for the hacker,” says Dominic K., adviser, Jarviz Mobile Security, Delhi. “Once inside, the hacker can pick up the signal from phones in a 40-foot radius and capture all your data, including the passwords you type.”
Secure yourself: As a general rule, a 3G network is safer to use than a public Wi-Fi. And needless to say, avoid wireless boosters that do not belong to you.
Through a phone charger
Any random phone-charging kiosk in public spaces like airports, restaurants or parks can be converted into a hacking device by putting a system inside it.
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