Never (Ever!) Charge Your Phone at the Airport Without This $7 Travel Gadget

a close up of a computer: Never (Ever!) Charge Your Phone at the Airport Without This $7 Travel Gadget

Public USB charging stations could be tampered with to steal data from your phone.

We’ve all been there. You have 20 minutes until your plane boards, and your phone is at 2 percent. Since your boarding pass is on your phone, you can’t let it die, so you plug it into the closest outlet to your gate. There’s no doubt that the proliferation of public USB charging ports at airports—as well as at airplane seats and near hotel beds—has made traveling with gadgets easier. But did you know that using them could allow others to steal personal data off your phone?

In November 2019, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office released an alert that warned people not to use public USB chargers. “Juice jacking,” they warned, is a scam in which criminals load malware directly into charging stations or into cables they leave plugged into public stations in order to infect electronic devices. The malware can then export data—including passwords—to the criminal who installed it.

While TechCrunch reported that these scams aren’t widely prevalent in the United States, it is very possible for people to steal your information through these tactics. Because it’s always better to be safe than sorry, you should stop using public USB chargers at airports and hotels in the future. If you can’t do that, follow these tips for keeping your travel gadgets safe while traveling.

How to avoid juice jacking

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