Free charging stations are located in many public places such as bus stations, airports, cafes, hotels and conference centers. If you travel frequently, it is very convenient to give your cell phone battery power a quick boost. But connecting to an unknown port has its risks.
A technique used by hackers called “video jacking” is when a USB cord is rigged to capture the smartphone’s video display and record everything that appears on the screen.
Plugging your phone into a hacked power strip or charger can open your device to infection and compromise all of your data. Once a port is compromised, there is no limit to what a hacker can steal. Your email, photos, videos, contact information, text messages, bank passwords and PIN numbers will all be vulnerable.
Hackers can find all the tools they need online, and for just a couple of hundred dollars. They will use their custom electronics hidden in a faux USB charging station. The person who is using the charging station believes it’s authentic, and will connect their phone to the correct charging cord. Then, while the phone is connected, the “charging station” mirrors your screen and records everything that you can see on your screen. And then, in a matter of minutes, the damage is done. If you have an Android or any HDMI ready smartphone, you are vulnerable. If you have an iPhone, you’re not safe either.
So, the best advice for those of you who cannot live without your phone?
Security experts advise never to use public outlets — instead, invest in a portable USB battery pack. You can also buy USB cords that don’t have wires to transmit data, thereby preventing a hacker from accessing your phone’s information.
Be prepared. The risk just simply isn’t worth it.