FBI Warns Against Using Public USB Charging Stations

by Anthony Losanno

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Public spaces, and airports in particular, have made it a point to add outlets and USB ports in many public areas. These give travelers the opportunity to charge their phones, laptops, and tablets before boarding a flight, but they also come with some hidden risks.

The FBI is warning people to be wary of public charging stations at airports and hotels due to possible hacking.

This is not the first time the agency has issued a warning. In 2019, the Los Angeles office tweeted about hackers using software to gain access to devices. This cannot happen if you use a standard outlet (only USB ports can be used to break into your phone or other device).

To protect yourself from identity theft and having personal information end up in the wrong hands, make sure that you use the standard outlet versus a USB port. I wouldn’t worry about this on a plane while at your seat or in a hotel room, but plug in that power cord while waiting for your next flight.

Anthony’s Take: With technology there will always be new scams. Follow the warnings of government agencies and use common sense to protect yourself and your devices.

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Christian April 12, 2023 - 1:16 am

There are also adapter type pieces about the size and shape of a flash drive that you can use as an intermediary that will block any data but still let you get your phone charged. You can buy them on Amazon. Another alternative is to charge your battery through the wall USB port and charge your phone from the battery at the same time.

Graham Rice April 13, 2023 - 5:41 pm

There is also the option of ‘power only’ USB cables. Using these prevents the USB port from recognising your device as a computer or phone and stops data transmission.

These are usually short (about 6 inches) extension cables with male and female connectors. Fit them between the USB port and your normal USB cable.

I purchased mine on eBay for about $2


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