The increasingly widespread use of cell phones and other electronic devices has led to a proliferation of public charging stations. On the surface, that’s a good thing — but not all charging stations are created equal.
One of the riskiest places to charge your phone is in an airport.
Is using a public charging port a good idea?
We know what you’re thinking: An airport, with its many surveillance cameras and constant stream of people, should be a safe place to charge your device, right? Not necessarily, and here’s why:
Cybercriminals have been known to compromise airport charging stations using USB sticks with malicious programs on them.
These programs can do one or more of the following:
- Install malware on your phone
- Transmit other unwanted data
- Steal your personal information and other data
Using public charging stations for nefarious purposes like this is generally known as “juice jacking.”
With all the bad things that can happen if you use a public USB charging station station, it’s probably not worth the potential loss of data, time and money. So here’s the bottom line: Proceed with extreme caution when using public USB charging stations.
Charging in public: 3 steps to safety
Here’s how to keep your device safe when charging it in public places:
- Always charge your phone from a wall electrical outlet using an adapter: If you can, always use a wall outlet to charge up. You lessen the chances of your device being compromised greatly.
- Consider your surroundings: If you’re out on the town and you notice that a charging kiosk has unkempt cables and adapters, it could be a fake port set up by hackers. Don’t fall for it, charge your phone elsewhere.
- Carry a personal charger with you: Having your own portable charger is not only an inexpensive option, it’s the safest way to go. Find them on our sister site ClarkDeals.com.
Here’s Clark’s take on using public Wi-Fi
Public wireless networks can be extremely unsafe as well.
Money expert Clark Howard says he never uses public Wi-Fi because of the security risks involved. Connected to the same network, crooks can steal your data quite easily.
So how does Clark access the internet when he’s out and about? This is what he says:
“Like so many people today, I have unlimited data on my cell phone. I’m also privileged that my cell phone comes with unlimited hotspot. Unless I’m at home or work, where I think I can trust the Wi-Fi, I operate off my own hotspot so that I’m not putting myself in the position where I might be exposed and vulnerable.”