Risks of Plugging a Smartphone Into a Public USB Port

As smartphones continue to increase in popularity, people can find USB charging stations in almost any location. From airports to malls, businesses are offering their customers a convenient way to keep a full charge. Without much thought, most people are quick to plug their devices into any random USB port that they might find, but doing so presents an unknown danger. Although cybercrime is on the rise, most people have no idea where to start when it comes to protecting their vital mobile device. Reports of malicious hackers using public USB ports to steal data are not uncommon, and each time an individual connects to an untrusted USB port, they are taking a significant risk.

When hackers exploit a public USB port, they gain the ability to impact mobile devices in a variety of ways. They can crash the device, upload malware that automatically executes on future computers the mobile is plugged into, video jack the device recording the screen while the user performs actions, or permanently brick the device. The best way a traveler can remain secure is by using a ‘power only’ USB cable that does not allow data transfer or an AC to USB adapter.