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Charging your phone in public? Watch that port!

September 1, 2018 - by Patrick Redo

Smartphones have become an ever-present part of our lives. Even if the fully charged phone is just there in case of emergencies, having a charged cellphone can provide a sense of security. That’s why, when the battery starts to tick downward, a sense of panic rises ensues.

Many public places have begun to provide USB ports and electrical outlets to charge customer smartphones. Unfortunately, this delightful public service has become a playground for thieves. Online scammers can hook tiny computers into those ports. When you plug in your phone, they can install programs on your phone that can report personal information the thieves use to commit identity theft. Additionally, thieves can use the connection to your phone to browse your phone’s contents, stealing browser history data — including sensitive passwords. It’s called “Juice Jacking,” and it can take as little as three minutes for them to have total control of your phone.

These scammers aren’t in every public place. They choose locations where they can do the most damage — airports, coffee shops, shopping malls and other places where people hang out. Use these tips to stay safe and avoid Juice Jackers.

Carry (or borrow) a power plug

The easiest way to prevent the scam is to only plug your phone into electrical outlets. There’s no computer on the other side of that outlet that can download your information. The only problem with this option is you have to carry around your own external power supply with a converter.  We know, it’s a hassle to carry one more thing, but it’s worth it to avoid compromising your personal information.

Purchase a battery pack

You can also carry your power solutions with you. Advancements in battery technology have made them smaller and more efficient than ever. You can find a battery pack the size of a pen that will refill your smartphone on a full charge. If it’s not convenient to carry around, try keeping one in the glove compartment of your car for emergencies. That way, you can charge your phone while on the road.

Conserve your power

The easiest way to avoid using a public charging station is to not need one in the first place. There are several things you can do to save your phone’s charge if it looks like you’re running low. Keep your apps updated. Running outdated software could be chewing up the life of your battery.

Also, don’t enable auto-updates. This can deplete your data in a hurry while burning through your battery. Update apps manually when you’re connected to WiFi, or just disable automatic updates if your battery is low.

Now It’s Your Turn: What’s your best battery saving technique? Do you have an app you swear by or a setting we’ve missed? Share your knowledge in the blog comments.  We’d love to hear from you.

 

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