FBI warns public about phone charging stations

Public phone charging station in the airport. Photo courtesy: Adobe Stock

Many people travel through airports and other public places like malls daily. Some at these places, for an extended time, may need to charge their phones. The FBI recently warned against using public phone charging stations in public places like airports or malls. These stations are insecure; using them can steal private and sensitive information from mobile devices.

Understanding the potential risks connected with using public phone charging stations is crucial. They are not always safe; nefarious individuals may exploit them to steal data from unwary users.

Jade Vinson, a fourth-year broadcast journalism student, urges others to be careful because this issue is a safety hazard.

“I feel like no one should know my personal life. I don’t know you from a can of paint,” Vinson said. “The fact I can plug my phone in for 5 minutes to get a little juice, and you can find out everything about me is scary.”

Additionally, certain charging stations may have hardware components like juice jacks intended to steal data from mobile devices installed. A juice jack is a gadget resembling a typical charging cable but is a malicious tool that immediately steals data from a connected mobile device. Without the user’s knowledge or consent, it can download information, including contact lists, messages and images.

People should avoid using public phone charging stations wherever feasible to protect themselves from such threats. If they must utilize these stations, they should take the appropriate security measures to protect their equipment and data. One such safety measure is using a portable power bank to charge their devices. Available online and at electronic stores, portable power banks are compact, battery-powered gadgets that can recharge one mobile device several times.

Dalilah Posley, a fourth-year broadcast journalism student, says it’s an invasion of privacy when cables steal data.

“Accessing all of our documents and messages has nothing to do with charging my phone,” Posley said. “It makes me fear charging my phone in the future.”

Using a charging-only cord is another method for preventing data theft from mobile devices. A cable intended to charge the device alone and not transfer data is known as a charging-only cable. Users can use a charging-only cord to ensure their smartphone is only charged and not connected to harmful software or hardware.

Although it was a routine warning, the FBI’s caution about using public phone charging stations emphasizes the dangers these terminals may pose. People should be aware of these hazards and adopt the appropriate security measures to safeguard their equipment and data. Portable power banks and charging-only cords can protect mobile devices from data theft. Individuals can protect their data and prevent becoming victims of cybercrime by adopting these precautions.