The FBI advised back several months ago against using public phone charging stations to avoid malware. Cybercriminals have used mall and airport USB stations to spread malware and monitoring software.
“Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centers,” the FBI cautioned on Twitter recently. “Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices
The agency advises carrying a charger and USB cord and using an outlet instead of public charging stations. Since 2011, security experts have warned about “juice jacking” at public charging stations. A compromised power strip or charger can infect your phone, compromising all your data.
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Phone charging cords can transmit data, so hackers could access email, text messages, photos, and contacts if a port is compromised. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) updated a blog post to warn that corrupted charging ports can lock devices or steal passwords and personal data. Some reports claim infected cables were promotional gifts.
The FBI and FCC advise people to use their own personal chargers and outlets when traveling to avoid malware and data theft at public phone charging stations.