Consumer Reports

Charging Stations Could Be Stealing Your Data

Rise in “Juice Jacking” at public charging stations prompts warnings from law enforcement. NBC Responds explains what you should look out for.

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Getty Images for Coachella

The holiday travel season has arrived and so too has new warnings about using public USB charging stations to charge your mobile device in airports, hotels, and public places.

The reason: A new scam that authorities refer to as “juice jacking,” wherein scammers hijack charging stations in order to export data and passwords through your cable. Scammers can also infect your device with malware.

“I would never use a public charging station,” says security expert, Jim Stickley. “There’s too much risk and you can’t trust who actually set up that charging station and who had access to it before you.”

State and local law enforcement agencies have issued warnings to travelers in recent weeks as the busy travel season kicks off.

Stickley told NBC that the public should take the warnings seriously.

“Sure, your phone is getting charged, but it is possible while that’s happening, malware could be reading everything and taking all your information," Stickley said.

Law enforcement experts suggest that travelers avoid using the USB port and instead rely on AC power. They also suggest traveling with car chargers or purchasing a portable charger for your trip.

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