Public charging stations might seem like a great idea. They’re conveniently placed at airports, central bus stations, and malls. They can seem like a godsend when you realize you’ve forgotten your charger at home and your phone is on one percent battery. But while it’s certainly very tempting to use these charging stations, officials are warning that it may not be such a good idea. In a public service announcement video from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Deputy District Attorney Luke Sisak urged people to avoid using public phone charging stations in places like airports, malls, and hotels, as they pose a security threat for “juice jacking.”
According to Sisak, “juice jacking” is a USB charging scam where criminals load dangerous software onto the public stations or cables that are used to plug in phones. Within minutes of “juicing” or charging a phone, the malware can cause phone owners to have their devices “jacked,” meaning they could be locked or have their private data and passwords released to the scammer.
“Be warned: a free charge could end up draining your bank account,” Sisak said. He went on to suggest using an AC power outlet instead of the stations, packing your own device chargers while traveling, and even going as far as purchasing a portable charger to keep in case of emergencies.
The bottom line is that you should definitely keep away from these public charging stations. It might seem like a convenient fix when your phone is about to die, but the risk just isn’t worth it. You’re better off packing your own travel-friendly charger, or purchasing one from a nearby store if necessary. It would be great if we could just leave our phones to charge at these stations while we wait for the bus but unfortunately, that is clearly not the case. And at the end of the day, better safe than sorry.