Why You Should Think Twice About Plugging Into Public USB Power Stations
Especially before heading out to travel this holiday season.
When you’re traveling and your phone is about to die, most travelers will take a charge wherever they can find it. But, a new report from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office warns against using public USB power charging stations because of “juice jacking.”
Juice jacking is a scam that can drain important information from your phone while you use a public USB port to charge.
Criminals can load malware onto the charging stations, rip out the real USB ports and replace them with their own infected ports or leave infected cables at the stations. When people use these ports, their phone will charge and their private information will be leaked to scammers. Through these scams, criminals can access information like personal passwords, bank accounts or entire backups of your phone.
Luckily, it’s an easy scam to avoid. Instead of using the USB charging stations, consider an AC power outlet instead. Carry a wall or a car charger for when you need a charge. Or consider buying a portable charger so you never have to plug into a fixed point. (Check out Travel + Leisure's favorites.)
Alternately, if you’re often traveling abroad and may not have access to a wall charger that will work with local power sockets, consider picking up a “USB Condom.” This device only costs $7 and will allow your device to charge while blocking any accidental transfer of information. It will stop anything from loading onto or draining from your devices.
And if you're worried about packing too many wires or outlet plugs for the sake of getting your own charge, T+L knows how to keep you organized in style.