It happens to everyone. You're in a public place when you look down to realize that your phone battery is completely dead. What are you supposed to do? You can't possibly survive in public without your phone. What if someone tries to get in touch with you...or worse...what if you need directions somewhere? Scary times.
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So you do what so many before you have done — you find a USB port or outlet (available in places like airports, planes, conference centers, coffee shops and parks) and plug her in. You probably didn't realize it at the time, but the second you plug your phone into a public charging station, your phone could be compromised.
We're not trying to be alarmists, but invisible attackers can collect your private information from outlets they've hacked. This particular form of technological thievery is referred to as "juice jacking," according to CNN.
"Just by plugging your phone into a [compromised] power strip or charger, your device is now infected, and that compromises all your data," Drew Paik of security firm Authentic8 told CNN.
It works the same way as when you plug your phone into a USB cord to sync your phone to your computer. The hackers gain immediate access to your emails, text messages, photos, contacts, etc.
There's no way to tell if a specific port has been hacked, so the best way to avoid handing over your information to strangers is to not use public ports. Instead, make sure your phone is fully charged before leaving your house (easier said than done, we know), invest in a portable USB battery pack or find a cord that doesn't allow for information transmission.
As crucial as it might be to check Facebook and Instagram, your security is much more important.