Battery power is one of those things that’s always at a premium, especially when you’re traveling and need to use one of the precious few power outlets at the airport to keep your device charged.
This week, the LA County District Attorney’s office put out a warning to remind everyone of one way you shouldn’t keep that device charged: a public USB port.
The issue is that public USB ports can potentially be hacked so that they install data-stealing malware onto your phone while you charge up. Called “juice-jacking,” the hack could result in scammers getting access to your passwords, personal information and more. Not exactly worth it for a few more minutes of Candy Crush, right?
If you do use one of the ports (don’t!), make sure you’re not agreeing to give the port access to data on your device. Depending on your device, you might see a pop up when you connect asking if you trust the device. You do not.
A better option is always to simply plug your phone or tablet into an AC outlet instead. I highly recommend picking up a small surge protector prior to your holiday travels and bringing that along. The protector takes up a minimal amount of bag space and can be a powerful tool when it comes to negotiating with someone to let you share a power outlet. As some commenters on this post have noted, a USB condom or cable without data capabilities can also be a great idea, although you’ll need to remember to use them.
Things like portable batteries can also be your friend and can help provide a little juice even when you’re out in the world away from outlets as a whole. I’m a huge fan of this Mophie battery that can even charge your laptop if you need it to, but if your phone is your only concern you can get some much smaller and cheaper batteries that can get the job done as well.