Why the FBI Says Charging Your Phone In Public Is Not a Good Idea

A short charge on the go can cause a long-term headache for users.

If you often find yourself out in public with a low battery, this may be a sign that it’s time to invest in portable charging options. The FBI now warns users to avoid using public charging stations, particularly in busy spaces like airports, hotels, and malls.

The bureau’s recent Twitter post alerted readers to the danger, warning that “bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices.” Yikes.

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The practice of stealing someone’s phone data from a charging station, known as “juice jacking”, has appeared in FBI and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) warnings about similar data hacking dangers in the past. Officials told Axios that the announcements are a reminder to help consumers protect their data.

Juice jacking can give hackers access to any personal information on your device, including personal and credit card information. Some comments responding to the tweet have suggested specific charging cables over others to help protect users needing a charge. USB-C cables and wireless chargers also provide additional security, but the safest charging source is likely a portable battery. 

In the event that you’re forced to use a public phone charger, keep an eye on your phone’s battery life. If you notice continued power drainage, your charger might be taking instead of giving. It’s also recommended that you disallow any setting changes–because if a charging station is asking for any kind of permission, it’s a juicing red flag.

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