While we travel this Thanksgiving and holiday season, be wary of the different types of public USB charging stations. Your phone might just be dumping all of your personal data while you refill your battery for your next run of Mario Kart.
USB ports were created to be used for power and data transfer. Public USB ports on the other hand are designed to provide power solutions to people on the move who have either flatlined or low batteries.
However, hackers have found criminal uses for these ports and are taking advantage of these to cause untold harm to innocent traveler. Indeed, it is something of a pandemic as lots of USB ports in public locations like hotels and airports are loaded with malware that could hack your phone or mobile device.
Dangers of Using Public USB Ports
Charging your phone at a public USB port has been likened to picking up a toothbrush from the sidewalk and using it to brush your teeth. Gross right? Well, that is the digital equivalent of the relationship between your phone and public USB ports. Just as you are likely to contact germs from using the dirty toothbrush on your teeth. You are also at great risk of contracting malware whenever you use public USB ports. It’s that way because the same technology that makes it possible to charge your phone and transfer data has been manipulated into of vehicle for data theft. Indeed hackers have found ingenious ways to infiltrate public USB ports with malware, so whenever unsuspecting travelers stop by to power their phones, they open up their phones to malicious elements that extract valuable information to the hackers. This process is known as “juice jacking.” There is also another version where a phone’s camera is hacked via a gadget that is disguised as a charging station. This is known as “video jacking.” Regardless of the version, victims of this process are always worse off after the encounter. Now that we have established the dangers of using public USB ports, we would like to share how to stop public USB ports from hacking your phone.
How to Protect Your Phone from USB Ports
The best way to stop your phone from being hacked via USB is to get alternative power solutions and a device that eliminates the incidence of data transmission. Here are some solutions that will be helpful.
- Enable the Authentication Features on your smartphone: Most, if not all, smartphones come with authentication features that offer a level of security to your phone. So when you plug your phone into a charging station that is meant to provide power alone, you should not receive any prompt. Should you receive a prompt like” Trust this computer,” then you must unplug your phone as soon as you can and warn others too.
- Invest in A Power Bank: This solution is the priciest of all the solutions discussed in this article. Yet it is about the best way to stop your phone from being hacked via USB ports. It allows you to conveniently power your phone without fear of data loss or malware infection. A power bank is a portable device, so you don’t have to be scared of carrying a weighty charger, you can keep it conveniently in your handbag or pocket.
- Buy A Power-Only USB Cable: There are USB cables that are specially designed to transfer only power and are impossible to transmit data with. This means that hackers will find it impossible to steal your data whenever you charge your phone at a public USB port using these kinds of cable. Most of these Power-Only USB cables are also affordable, therefore buying one won’t cost you a lot.
- Get a Phone Charger: Chargers are portable and handy as they allow you to always have access to charge. This way, you get to power your phone as long as there is an AC outlet close by. This is also very important in case of emergencies, so you won’t be tempted to make use of public USB stations.
- Use A USB Condom: Just like its contraceptive counterpart, USB condoms come between your USB cable and the public USB port. The condom prevents the transmission of data (just as with STD’s and sperm) and will stop your phone from being hacked. Therefore, you must ensure that you have a USB condom such as the Juice- jack defender.
- Never unlock or use your phone while charging: It is also advisable that you avoid unlocking your phone while charging so that the phone can utilize proper encryption to ensure that hackers do not have access to the private information on your mobile device.
- Charge your phone using your laptop: As an alternative, if you have your laptop with you, it is advisable that you connect your USB devices to the USB port on your laptop and charge your phone with that. This ensures that your data are safe and not made accessible to hackers.
- Never grant a public port access to data on your device: If using a public USB port remains the only option you have at a time, then you must ensure that you do not give the port access to data on your device. After connecting your device to a public USB port, you might see something that pops up asking if you trust the device, kindly reject the pop-up.
Cable or Power Pack????
In all, the best way to stop public USB ports from hacking your phone is by having a portable USB charger wherever you go. However, in rare cases, when you don’t have a USB charger, you can simply plug your phone to the USB port on your laptop or buy a USB cable that disables data transfer.
To ensure you do not fall victim to hackers, you need the services of managed IT firms like the FLNerds. The FLNerds understand that threats are everywhere, and that is why we provide proactive measures in protecting your network, tech, and data. The FLNerds work by monitoring your network security, running IT security audits, and assessments to know where you are vulnerable. They also provide various solutions to ensure that your data are not compromised even in public places. Click here to find out more about FLNerds.