While smartphones offer speedy access to the internet and convenient online access, the battery life of smartphones is a constant concern. Public phone charging stations at airports, on-board planes, public transport and parks are now available to help with this.
However; Authentic8 employee Drew Paik at the RSA security conference during the week of the 13th February 2017 highlighted the security risks associated with public charging points. He explained the data stored on the phone is potentially accessible to an attacker who provides a rogue charging station. An attacker may use this opportunity to steal your data or install malware. At the conference he installed a charging station at the Authentic8 booth and approximately 80% of people connected their phones without asking if the charging port was safe?
How can I protect myself from this threat?
As this linked to article highlights this vulnerability originates from 2011 (known as “juice jacking”) with 2016 debuting a similar vulnerability known as “video jacking”. Google Android phones provide a charge only option but Apple iPhones do not appear to offer this option.
If you are with mobile devices and wish to charge them safely you should use a portable USB battery pack or purchase USB cables which charge devices only rather than also allowing data access.