The FBI Says Be Careful of Free Public USB Charging Ports 

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Have you ever been saved by a public charging port in an airport when your phone was almost out of charge and you were about to board a plane? Public charging ports are very convenient—and they’re free. But the latest warning from the FBI says to be wary.

Let’s take a look at why free charging ports pose a cybersecurity threat and the alternatives you should use instead. 

Convenience vs. Cybersecurity

We’ve all seen them—in airports, coffee shops, and hotels especially—those convenient public charging ports that save the day when your devices are dying! 

Unfortunately, the US domestic intelligence and security service says that hackers have figured out how to use these public ports to infect devices with malware and other monitoring software. 

The service recommends carrying your own phone or laptop charger and a USB cord and finding a standard electrical outlet instead. 

Similar to the guidance to avoid public Wifi networks when accessing secure information, free public charging ports are also a risk to personal security. 

Why Are Public Charging Ports Dangerous? 

Hackers are using two main methods to target public USB ports. 

First is a method called “juice jacking,” in which criminals load malware onto public charging stations to maliciously corrupt devices while being charged. Once installed, the malicious software can be used to steal account credentials, personal details, and financial information.

The second method is called “video jacking.” This involves hidden equipment in a compromised charging port that records footage of everything happening on a device while it’s plugged in. The video can record and capture everything from the user entering passwords to writing emails that may contain sensitive information. 

Best Practices for Charging Devices On the Go

Everyone needs to charge devices on the go from time to time—especially those that regularly travel. These tips will keep your devices—and, most importantly, your information — safe.

  1. Always bring your own charging cord and opt for a standard electrical outlet instead of a public charging port.
  2. Never email sensitive information or documents, especially when working in a public place.
  3. Consider purchasing and traveling with a portable charger pack when you cannot find a suitable outlet.

As a managed IT service provider in the Greater Phoenix Area, PK Tech prides itself on sharing the latest IT and cybersecurity news. We work with several different industries with businesses of varying sizes and scopes. If your business needs IT services, let’s chat. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation call with a member of our team today.