Beware of juice jacking.
WHAT IS THAT? you ask.
Juice jacking is a term used to describe a cyberattack on a smartphone, tablet or other computer device via a public USB charging port—like the ones you find in airports, hotel lounges and shopping malls.
Scammers have hooked tiny computers into some of these ports. When you plug in your phone, they can install malicious programs on your devices that report back personal information they can use to commit identity theft. Or they can use the connection to your phone to search through your device's content and steal browsing history data, such as passwords.
Taking a few precautions can help you keep your personal information safe and secure.
Use a power plug.
The easiest way to thwart these hackers is to avoid using the USB charging ports ... But a phone's gotta charge when a phone's gotta charge, are we right? Plug your devices into an electrical outlet instead. Carry your power plug with you.
Use a charge-only cable.
There are two types of USB cables: data and charge-only. Charge-only cables are two conductor cables, rather than four, and can't transmit data. They also supply a higher current charge, which lends to faster charging. Score.
Pick up a battery.
Batteries aren't necessarily bricks anymore. Technology advancements have made them like Altoids—small and curiously powerful. A battery pack the size of a pen could refill your smartphone on a full charge.
If you don't have safer charging devices with you, avoid using a public USB charging port by conserving your power.
Ensure your apps are updated before you venture out—developers constantly release new versions, in part, because they found ways to make things run more smoothly. On the other hand, disable auto-update; updates drain data and burn through battery life. Update apps manually when you're connected to Wi-Fi and have plenty of power.
If you're really desperate, even changing your wallpaper to all black can help add precious seconds to your power time.
Keeping your personal information private takes a bit of extra work and planning, but it's worth it to keep your identity and accounts safe and secure.
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.