Those long hours traveling can certainly drain your phone’s battery, so when you come across a charging station at the airport, you’re probably very relieved.
But using a charging port at the airport might not be the best idea.
According to the FBI:
Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centers. Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices. Carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead.
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While charging ports are a great service that airports offer, the FBI recommend you avoid using the airport’s charging ports due to what is known as juice jacking.
This is when you plug your device, such as your phone, into a USB port, which then allows a hacker to take over your device.
This means that all your personal data, such as your credit card info, photos, passwords, pictures, and everything else you don’t want to share, are at risk
Use a Data Blocker USB Cable
The solution is to either only charge your electronic devices through a power outlet, which can be hard to do at an airport because there aren’t as many power outlets available compared to charging ports, or to use a data blocker USB.
Typically, USB cables have four cables inside them: two for power and two for transferring data.
As data blocker USBs only have cables that are used for power, and because you won’t be transferring any data at the airport and will just be charging your phone, buying one of these data blocker USBs is a must.
Fortunately, USB data blockers are very cheap. You can buy a 4-pack for under $20.
You might also want to think about using a power bank, such as the Anker 325 Power Bank, so you will always be able to charge your devices on the go.
The Anker 325 meets all TSA and airline regulations for bringing power banks onboard.
How to Tell if a Charging Port Has Been Tampered With
While there is no surefire way to tell if the charging port you plug your phone or tablet into will be susceptible to juice jacking, there are a couple of indications.
The best way is to look for scuff marks around the charging area, as this could indicate that the ports have been tampered with.
Otherwise, look for:
- Unknown charges to your account that you didn’t authorize
- An increase in spam calls
- Being unable to access your phone/tablet
- A decrease in your phone’s/tablet’s performance
Also Avoid Public Wi-Fi
I’ve been guilty of using public Wi-Fi in an airport before.
Before the days of eSIMs, and with all the international travel I have done, I sometimes connected to the airport’s Wi-Fi due to the exorbitant data costs when using my phone in some countries.
A common scenario I would find myself in is that once I landed, I didn’t want to pay for a taxi, so needed to use the internet to figure out how to get to my hotel.
While nothing bad happened or has yet to happen, just be aware that connecting to public Wi-Fi, whether it’s at the airport or elsewhere, runs the risk of your data being breached.
Nowadays, I use an eSIM, so I can use my data as soon as I land, while before I would have to buy a local SIM card.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).