When in an emergency (which, in most cases means that the battery percentage of our devices reached levels below 20%) panic sets in and we feel like we have to plug the phone in (even though it might be hours away from shutting down, in some cases).
So you see a public usb outlet, you plug your cable in and hook your phone up as soon as possible, right?
A report from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office warns that utilizing public USB power charging stations puts users at risk of “juice jacking”, which is a scam that extracts vital information from people’s smartphones when they keep them plugged into a public USB port.
How it works
Criminals are able to upload malware onto the charging stations, remove the original USB ports and swap them with their own custom infected ports or leave suspicious cables at the stations. When people access the ports, their device will begin charging and their private information will be sent to scammers, which can take control of passwords, bank accounts or entire backup files of a phone.
How to avoid getting scammed
The most efficient and simplest way to avoid this kind of scam is to carry and use an AC power adapter instead so that there is no way malevolent people can connect to your device, access your data and fiddle around with it.
Alternatively, purchase a “usb condom”, which is a small gadget that is connected in series with the cable and makes sure that only power is transmitted to the phone (no data transfer takes place). Those are very cheap and can potentially be a true lifesaver.