Understanding the Risks of Using Public Charging Stations
Many of us cannot bear to have our phones run out of juice. When the battery runs down, we feel like a part of our lives has been put on hold. That is why we are so eager to charge our phones so we immediately rush to any public charging stations we find along our way.
What a relief, right? Wrong!
What if we told you that you could be exposing your privacy to some serious risk by charging your phone at a public charging station?
This might be a little confusing for you, so will explain further.
Risks of Using Public Charging Stations
Most (if not all) these public charging stations offer USB charging ports which are what practically what every smartphone uses today. Now, most USB ports are dual purpose in design. That is, they are capable of carrying information (data) as well as an electrical charge.
By connecting to this public hub, it is like linking to a network where everyone has access to. Anyone with the necessary skills or tools can access any other person’s devices. All they need to do is leave a malware lurking in any of the ports either via a cable left invitingly or any other means. You are therefore at risk of losing important personal information ranging from files, stored passwords, or having them take total control of your device.
To put it very mildly, these public charging stations put your privacy at serious risk.
What to Do
Since it is virtually impossible to say your phone will never run low on battery while you are in transit, the next best thing to do is look at a few alternative ways to avoid the damage that these public charging stations can cause to you and your privacy.
Here are three quick solutions to consider:
Get a Power Bank
Invest a few dollars in a dedicated power bank which will act as a power reservoir for your device. When the battery runs low, you can safely recharge from the bank. The downside is that quality power banks can be expensive and their capacity deteriorates in a couple of years.
Use a USB Data Blocker or USB Datablocking cable
The only 100% SAFE way to use a public charging station is to use a USB Data Blocker or a USB Datablocking Cable. These are only capable of transferring power so they are safe. Under no circumstances DO NOT USE any cable you find dangling on a public charger. When traveling always carry a USB Data Blocker or a USB Datablocking cable that cannot transfer data.
Use Regular Chargers
Alternatively, just get a regular charger and plug it into an electrical socket. There is no risk of information mining or malware infestation with this.
With more and more cases of “juice jacking” the public charging station are becoming a big Privacy issue. Always take active steps to prevent any attempt at invading your space. Especially when traveling to third world countries.