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FBI Warns Against Using Public USB Charging Stations

Apple power adapter brick plugged into wall with cable
Jason Montoya / Review Geek

The FBI is warning the public against using publicly available USB charging stations to power up their devices. In a tweet, the federal law enforcement agency’s Denver office stated that bad actors could deliver malware to your device while you’re charging.

The tweet also recommends carrying your own charging cable and connecting your devices through an electrical outlet rather than a USB charging hub.

Public charging stations for mobile devices have become commonplace in places like malls, airports, and hotels in recent years. And are a battery life-saver for users running low on power on their smartphones, laptops, and more. However, many people don’t realize that data can be transferred through electrical currents, opening their devices to malware threats such as viruses and spyware. With this new warning from the FBI, the public should treat public charging with the same skepticism they view publicly available Wi-Fi.

The Denver Post reports that the Denver International Airport is aware of the practice, known as “Juice Jacking,” but isn’t aware of any specific incidents happening at its facility.

DIA spokesperson Ashley Forest stated that the facility “has methods of determining whether a public charging port has been tampered with and the ability to take any tampered port out of service.” But went on to say, “the best defense against this type of attack on any public charging port remains within the smartphone itself,” and that Apple and Android phones provide updates to devices that “alert users to this type of attack when using a public charging port,” according to the Post.

Danny Chadwick Danny Chadwick
Danny has been a technology journalist since 2008. He served as senior writer, as well as multimedia and home improvement editor at Top Ten Reviews until 2019. Since then, he has been a freelance contributor to Lifewire and ghostwriter for Fit Small Business. His work has also appeared on Laptop Mag, Tom’s Guide, and business.com. Read Full Bio »