I just received a question from a reader about using public charging stations when traveling and since it’s something I am asked often, I thought I would write an article with my answer to share with everyone. RELATED: The Travel Gadget Flight Attendants Never Leave Home Without

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Reader Anne-Marie asks:

Folks are charging their phones at charging stations at airports, and I have been reading articles/Youtube and I am still not clear.

  • Would a data blocker work
  • Which one do I get to use with an iPhone – the juicing cable? – I get the sense the data blocker is for use with a laptop

Would you be posting an article on that? I look forward to your reply.

What Anne-Marie is worried about is getting hacked while charging her device when traveling. It’s a legitimate concern. Unfortunately, cyber thieves are able to hack cell phones through public charging stations, which is why it’s best to take precautions, either by avoiding them altogether or using your own personal items. The practice is called Juice Jacking and Fox 26 Houston recently wrote about it.

RELATED: What to Do If You Forget Your Charger at Home

According to the article, Ken Smiley, an Executive Vice President with Amegy Bank said, “I see a lot of people at those charging stations that are completely unaware.”

The article goes on to explain that the practice is called “juice jacking, where a cyber thief can either hack into the charging system or download malware or a virus that is then downloaded through the USB port onto your phone while it’s charging.”

“When you plug in your phone or laptop, or iPad, or any other type of tablet, it can download malware onto your phone,” explained Smiley.

“Now the hacker can steal your personal information or passwords, or get into your bank account, or credit cards stored on the phone. “It’s really a problem,” he said. “And nobody knows about it.”

You can learn more about juice jacking in this Fox 26 Houston video:

YouTube video

What’s crazy is that this can happen at an airport, car rental, restaurant, hotel or even on an airplane.

There are a few easy solutions to this:

  1. Bring your own charging cables and use an AC power outlet instead of a USB charging station.
  2. If you do use a USB charging station use one of these inexpensive data blockers that will prevent getting hacked. Read more about data blockers and how they work here.
  3. The easiest way around this is to bring a portable charger with you when you travel. It’s the device that flight attendants say they never travel without and frequent travelers always have in their carry-on bag. And the carry-on bag is key here as they are not allowed in checked baggage (besides, it won’t do you any good in your checked luggage.)


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