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Don’t Charge Your Phone at Public Charging Stations

Don’t Charge Your Phone at Public Charging Stations

If you use a public charging station to charge your phone, you are exposing it to being hacked.

Once a port is compromised, a hacker can view and steal your emails, text messages, photos, and contacts. This kind of hacking is called juice jacking, by which malware might be installed on to, or data surreptitiously copied from a device using a charging port that doubles as a data connection, typically over a USB connection.

Despite the obvious risks of using public charging stations, people use them all the time, even at world-class security conferences. Recently at the RSA security conference in San Francisco, Authentic8 set up a charging station at its booth, offering cords for people to charge devices. Authentic8 makes Silo, a secure browser that anonymizes web activity.

The company ran an informal experiment to see how many people would use the public charging stations. An overwhelming number of attendees — about 80% — connected their phones without asking about the security.

The first informational juice jacking kiosk included a screen which would change from “Free charging station” to a warning message that the user “should not trust public charging stations with their devices.”

5 Ways to Protect Your Phone and its Data

  • Never use a public charging station. If you feel you must, don’t unlock your phone’s password or other security features such as two-factor authentication.
  • The safest approach is to plug your phone into a charging station or computer you trust, using your own USB cable. Invest in a portable USB battery pack.
  • To communicate, only use encrypted apps such as WhatsApp and iMessage.
  • Use antivirus software which will enable your phone and other devices to detect and prevent malware.
  • Keep your mobile operating system up-to-date so you will always have the latest bug fixes.

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