Charging Stations Might Expose Your Phone to Hackers

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Beware of public phone-charging stations such as those found in airports.

If you plug your phone into a USB port that has been hacked, you might unwittingly share everything on your phone with a criminal.

It’s a type of cyberattack known as “juice jacking,” a term that dates back to 2011, CNN Tech reports. But an expert says many people still use public charging ports without realizing the security risk.

Drew Paik, head of marketing at the security firm Authentic8, explains to CNN:

“Just by plugging your phone into a [compromised] power strip or charger, your device is now infected, and that compromises all your data.”

That includes your:

  • Email
  • Text messages
  • Photos
  • Contacts

Paik tells CNN that folks concerned about security shouldn’t use public USB ports to charge their phones. Instead, he recommends using your own charger or investing in a portable USB battery pack.

The latter is also referred to as a “portable power bank” or simply a “power bank.” It can charge a device on the go without requiring an electrical outlet.

You can find power banks online for less than $20, if not less than $10. Some retailer websites will refine results to display only the power banks that are compatible with your phone model, making it a lot easier to find one. Amazon, for example, allows you to check boxes beneath the words "Device Compatibility."

For more cybersecurity tips, check out “5 Easy Steps to Keep Your Computer and Tech Safe in 2017.”

What do you make of juice jacking? Sound off below or over on our Facebook page.

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