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How to keep your smartphone data safe while using public USB power charging stations

public USB power charging stations

Now we have public USB power charging stations at malls, hotels, markets, and airports. If your phone or any other device is on low battery, you just need charging cable to plug in that USB power outlet and charge. But this could be risky. In this article, I will tell you how these public USB power charging stations can be harmful and how to safely use them.

The USB port is not just used for charging but also for data transfer. So, a malicious USB charging point can be used to install malware on your device and access sensitive data of your phone. Attacks using an infected USB port is not new. We are in 2020 and the first demonstration was given at the Black Hat security conference back in 2013. In 2016, a researcher demonstrated how a malicious USB wall charger could record and mirror the screen of the device plugged in for the charging. So, there are different ways to exploit public USB charging stations for malicious purposes. This attack is known as Juice Jacking.

Pluggable USB wall chargers at public places could be available for free charging, but it could be a malicious charger to load malware on devices. It is also worth noting that the latest Android or iOS versions now have popups in their user interface that tells if USB port is attempting to transfer data. So, this is not a big security threat now. Still, you should know about this attack and how to keep your devices safe.

How to keep your phone safe from malicious public USB power charging stations?

There are a few ways you can adopt to be safe.

1. Use USB Defender

USB Defender

USB Defender (also referred to as USB condom) is the tiny device that protects your data. You just need to plug-in your USB cable into USB defender and then connect defender to USB ports. USB Defender blocks data pins of the USB port, so data cannot flow. Hence it blocks unwanted data transfer. If you use this device while using public USB charging points, malicious USB ports won’t be able to access any kind of data of your device. So, your device will be safely charging and you will have peace of mind.

Recommended Data Blockers

2. Use an AC power outlet, not a USB charging station

Try to find an AC power outlet. That will be safe to use. But you also need to carry a wall adapter if you want to use AC power outlets in public places.

3. Carry Power bank

I personally prefer this one. You can keep a power bank or a portable charger in your bag while traveling. Whenever you want to charge your phone, plug your device in power bank. In this way, you also do not need to wait at a place for your phone to be charged. You can keep charging your phone while moving.

Recommended Power Bank

Wrap Up

USB defender or USB Condom or Data Blocker is a cheap device. So, you can also buy that. In case you have no option left but to use a public USB charging station, you can use USB defender to keep your data safe. I personally prefer using a power bank because I know it is safe and I don’t need to find charging points. I can charge my phone whenever I want.

Featured Image source: Forbes

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Deepanker Verma is the founder of Techlomedia. He is a tech blogger, developer and gadget freak.


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