You may have heard in the news lately not to use free charging stations to charge your phone in Airports, libraries, malls, etc. But, if you read the original post/warning… they only mentioned the USB port as the problem. The electrical outlets are OK to use as long as you use your own cables and plugs. (Below you can read the real post from the Federal Communications Commission.)
But, first lets answer some of the questions we have received.
Are there USB cables that only carry power and not data?
Yes, but for an airport, those types of cables may not be the best option. They usually have poor charging performance which could be an issue if you are in a hurry at the airport and want to charge fast.
What about if I get to the airport and I can not find my electric plug? What now? I would not survive my trip without my phone. I will have to risk it.
If there is no other way, and you need to risk using public USB ports, you have to make sure your phone settings are set to the “charge this device only” option and not the option “Of charge AND transfer data”. Most phone will ask you if you want to allow data transferring when you pug into a usb port, so in this case make sure to answer NO, but we urge you to check your default settings BEFORE you plug it into a public usb port.
What if I left my power adapter in my checked bags and want to wait to charge it?
In this case either turn your phone off to conserve power or put it in a power saving mode and turn off all unnecessary needed functions, like wifi and Bluetooth and close down all unused apps, like facebook and twitter. These apps consume a lot of power due to the act they send push notifications. Side note: Your Bluetooth should be off when traveling, but that is for another blog!
‘Juice Jacking’: The Dangers of Public USB Charging Stations
Planning to travel? No doubt you’ll have your cell phone or another portable device, and you’ll need to re-charge it at some point.
If your battery is running low, be aware that juicing up your electronic device at free USB port charging stations, such as those found in airports and hotel lobbies, might have unfortunate consequences. You could become a victim of “juice jacking,” yet another cyber-theft tactic.
Cybersecurity experts warn that bad actors can load malware onto public USB charging stations to maliciously access electronic devices while they are being charged. Malware installed through a corrupted USB port can lock a device or export personal data and passwords directly to the perpetrator. Criminals can then use that information to access online accounts or sell it to other bad actors.
In some cases, criminals may have intentionally left cables plugged in at charging stations. There have even been reports of infected cables being given away as promotional gifts.
Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a juice jacking victim:
- Avoid using a public 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.
- If you plug your device into a USB port and a prompt appears asking you to select “share data” or “charge only,” always select “charge only.”