The FBI Says You Shouldn’t Use Those Free Public Charging Stations to Charge Your Phone — Here’s Why
If you're traveling and plan to use a free public charging station, you may want to hear what the FBI has to say first.
The FBI has issued a warning urging people to steer clear of free public charging stations.
Don't Use Free Public Charging Stations
According to the FBI, hackers can hijack public chargers and infect your devices with malware, giving them access to your phone, tablet or laptop.
"Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centers. Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices," the FBI’s Denver field office tweeted April 6.
Instead, travelers should plan to "carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead."
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also warned about the malware scheme, dubbing it "juice jacking."
According to the FCC, malware installed through a compromised USB port can lock a device or export personal data and passwords to the hacker. Hackers can then access personal online accounts and/or sell the data to others
The FCC recommends travelers carry a charging-only cable that doesn't allow their devices to either send or receive data while actively charging.
Is Public Wi-Fi Safe to Use?
The FBI offers similar guidance on its website regarding public chargers and Wi-Fi.
"Be careful when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network and do not conduct any sensitive transactions, including purchases, when on a public network," their site reads.