Avoid Public Charging Kiosks

You like to travel light–no bulky wall wart for you–and besides, why search for an out-of-the-way wall outlet in public spaces when charging kiosks seem to proliferate in almost every public space. Why just yesterday I saw one in the tiny waiting room at the auto repair shop–it was shaped like a car battery and had various types of charging cords sticking out of it.

[Read: Yes, Your Smart Television Is Watching You]

I shuddered. That same cord that charges your phone also transfers your data. By plugging in to a compromised public power strip or charger, you run the risk of falling prey to juice jacking. That is, having your data sucked right off your phone. Photos, contacts, emails, texts–all of it–right through your USB cord and into the kiosk (or the hotel room lamp, or the meeting room table USB power strip, etc.). And who knows what you’re uploading? [Read: When Your Antivirus Fails]

What Can You Do to Not Get Juice Jacked?

    • Use your charging adapter (AKA “block,” “wall wart”) to charge your phone with an electrical outlet.
    • Use a portable USB battery pack. Of course, there is some debate about their safety (i.e., is there code on the battery pack that will get uploaded to your phone? I suppose it’s possible . . . )
    • Use a USB cord without data wires. (This will not work with all devices.)
    • Use a charge-only device that prevents data from flowing. Plug the device into the charging port, then plug your cord into it. (One good inexpensive universal option is the Porta Pow 3rd Gen USB Data Blocker. Check out that and other great cybersecurity resources–here.)

To learn more about cybersecurity for individuals and small businesses, check out the Freelancer’s Guide to Cybersecurity and its list of resources.

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