Breaking News
More () »

Are free phone charging stations in airports safe?

Hackers are using airport USB charging stations to steal your information.

If you use an airport USB charging station, it may not be a good idea.

There's a growing number of hackers who are modifying those USB connections to hijack your phone. The travel and transportation industry was the second most attacked industry in 2018, which was up from tenth the year before, according to new research by IBM Security.

Paul Sems with TrustedSec says hackers can embed a faulty chip in a USB port or cord to install malware on your phone or steal your data without your knowledge.

"There's something called Juice-Jacking. There's Trust-jacking.  There's these sophisticated software packages that can go ahead and disguise your phone and expose your entire phone to a criminal element," Sems said.

He says hackers can steal personal information including bank data, photos and more.

Sems says these type of incidents have occurred as early as 2011 and as recent as 2018. He says there are ways you can protect yourself, which includes using a wall outlet.

"What we recommend is bring your own charger. It's the simplest thing Just put it in your bag with you plug in with a regular 100 volt outlet and you'll be safe," he said. "The second thing is {bring a portable charger]...if you want to have another option there are little adapters available that make sure they filter out all data communications so the only thing your getting is power."

The adapter Sems is referring to is what is known as a "Juice-Jack Defender", which you can find for $10

Sems also recommends to avoid picking up and using a flash drive or charger left behind in an airport. You can also be at risk at a hacker taking over your phone.

"You can't trust it," he said. "You don't know where it's been."

Before You Leave, Check This Out