Public phone charging stations are fast, convenient, and they could do irreparable harm to your phone and security, according to a recent warning issued by the FBI.
Public charging stations have become increasingly popular in recent years in airports, shopping malls and hotels.
The FBI’s Denver office recently took to social media and said hackers “have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices.”
Instead, the FBI suggests, carry your own USB cord and charger and use an old-fashioned electrical outlet instead.
The FBI’s warning is echoed on the Federal Communications Commission’s website. It refers to the act as “juice jacking.”
“Cybersecurity experts have warned that criminals can load malware onto public USB charging stations to maliciously access electronic devices while they are being charged,” the FCC website reads.”Malware installed through a dirty USB port can lock a device or export personal data and passwords directly to the perpetrator. Criminals can use that information to access online accounts or sell it to other bad actors.”
The FCC also said that sometimes criminals have left cables plugged in at stations and have given infected cables away as promotional gifts.
The FCC recommends:
- Avoid using a USB charging station. Use an AC power outlet instead.
- Bring AC, car chargers and your own USB cables with you when traveling.
- Carry a portable charger or external battery.
- Consider carrying a charging-only cable, which prevents data from sending or receiving while charging, from a trusted supplier.