Phone batteries tend to run out sooner than expected most of the time, all thanks to different battery consumption apps. While fast charging technology has caught up in recent years, it’s a bit difficult to find the right charger and cable other than the one that comes with it. And if you spot a bank of USB ports for charging, well, that can be a tempting scenario.
Whether you’re in an airport restaurant or coffee shop, it can be very tempting to plug your phone into a public USB port for a few extra hours of battery life.
But should you charge your phone at airports or restaurants, or for that matter, in any public place? Well, if you are not too careful, you could easily pass your personal information to hackers. And it can be as simple as plugging your phone into an unknown USB port at a random cafe.
In this article, we’ll explain juice jacking and the steps you can take to avoid getting caught in the middle of it.
What is Juice Jacking
USB ports transfer power and data, and there are specific pins to transfer power and data. So when you plug your phone into a USB port, it can facilitate power and data transmission. And it paves the way for hackers to gain access to your phone data and other details without your knowledge.
While juice jacking is complicated and not as easy as it looks, there have been cases at airports in the United States. In fact, in 2019, the Los Angeles DA office warned travelers to use public USB ports to charge their phones.
On most new phones, data sharing with a USB device without consent is disabled. However, some older versions of phones may still be vulnerable to these types of attacks.
So, at the end of the day, unless you’re sure the USB port is completely clean, it’s best to avoid using it completely.
How to prevent juice jacking
One of the best ways to secure your phone while charging in a public place is to use the AC outlet directly. For this you need to take the adapter and the charging cable.
The good thing is that most of the new adapters have adopted a small and compact body, which makes it easy to carry them in your bag or purse.
If you’re looking for a universal adapter to charge your PC and phone at a decent speed, you can check out RavPower’s GaN charger. This is a 90W charger designed to charge most laptops and USB-C phones that support USB Power Delivery.
However, if it is not possible to carry the adapter and charging cable everywhere, purchasing a USB data blocker is one of the smartest solutions.
They are small and affordable gadgets. As the name suggests, these gadgets block the data pins on your charging cable’s USB port. Plus, it eliminates the risk of data flowing from your phone.
As stated before, these data blockers are tiny and barely take up much space. They can be carried in your wallets or pockets. So whenever you need to charge your phone, you need to plug it into the end of your USB cable.
While there are many USB data blockers out there, the ones from PortaPow are very popular. In addition to blocking the data flow, this is designed to automatically detect the type of connected device in order to optimize the current flow.
The only downside to USB data blockers is that they limit the flow of current. While the PortaPow USB data blocker provides up to 2.4A of current, the Plugable unit limits it to 1A.
Another alternative is to take a lightweight external battery with you, especially if you travel a lot. The good thing is that some of the newer USB-C power banks are designed to power both laptops and smartphones at a decent speed.
The Anker PowerCore + is a lightweight and powerful power bank. The good part is that it’s small enough to take with you on your travels and long commutes. It has a maximum power capacity of 26800mAh and has three USB ports.
The PowerCore + has a single USB-C port that can deliver 45W of power, while the two USB-A ports provide up to 15W of power.
Alternatively, you can check out the Pioneer RAVPower PD. It has a maximum output power of 60W and combines a single USB-C port (45W) and a USB-A port. (18W).
These are some of the ways in which you can protect your phone and data from wrongdoers. The main thing is simple. Yes, you can charge your phone at airports and restaurants, as long as you take the necessary precautions.
If you don’t have a USB data blocker (or wall adapter), it’s better to stay on a low battery for a bit than risk losing your data.
Keep a watchful eye
There are a myriad of ways in which hackers and criminals can steal your personal data and information. The idea is to stay alert and not trust random gadgets and apps. At the same time, regularly change your passwords. It never hurts to stay a little vigilant.
Last updated on June 18, 2021
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