Posted on 13, September, 2019
Last Modified on 01, March, 2023
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Busting the Myths about Phone Charging StationsHere's a situation we've all been in – for whatever reason your phone didn't charge overnight, or app usage has drained the battery just as you arrive to the local mall or event. You look around, trying to remember what was on that shopping list you had saved to "Notes" and expecting an important phone call any minute. There is a public phone charging station at the food court, but you have never used one before and have heard that there may be risks of theft or juice-jacking. The last thing you need is for someone to steal your data or install malicious software onto your device. So the question is, "can I protect your phone while taking advantage of this convenient public service?"
The simple answer is yes, you can! The truth is, any type of software-related tampering is incredibly rare, and physical theft can be prevented by staying close by or utilizing a charging station with a locker. Still, there are growing concerns that public charging stations can leave your device at risk.
Here are some simple solutions to this problem!
1: Get a Portable Power BankThis is a slightly more pricey option on our list and will run you about $15 to $30, but it is by far the safest and can help you avoid this situation altogether in the future. Charging a portable power-bank at your community power station removes the risk of your phone being tampered with or downloading malicious scripts for one simple reason, your device is never plugged in! Simply recharge the bank and go about your day charging your phone from your pocket, purse, or backpack without being chained to a wall or public kiosk. Portable power banks are especially useful for ensuring you never have that dreadful moment where your phone dips below 1%, because you always have a backup power supply ready to top off your device.
2: Carry a Power-Only USB CableThe trouble with most cell phone chargers is that they are designed to power your device and transmit data from the same cord. There are certain pins that transmit power, and others that transmit data. Purchasing a power-only USB cable will only cost a couple dollars, but can be invaluable whilst protecting your phone's personal information. It is possible to alter your spare USB cable to only transmit power by blocking the middle data pins with tape. However, we always recommend purchasing a product designed for that function to avoid any issues. Use one of these cords if you want to protect your phone from possible data transfer or information theft at public charging stations.
3: Use a USB Data BlockersA USB data blocker is a device that goes between your normal data charging cable and a USB port, blocking data from being transmitted and only allowing the phone to charge. Best selling models are available on Amazon for about $, and are a nifty tool for public charging. These devices even come in handy when trying to charge your phone at work or on a public computer which may typically display an error while trying to connect. USB data blockers have the same function as a power-only cord and eliminate the risk of juice-jacking while using an untrusted port.
4: Power Down While ChargingData can not be transferred to a phone that is shut off, and there is no way to turn your phone on remotely. Shutting your phone off while charging is a surefire way to ensure that no malicious software is transmitted to your phone while you are waiting to recharge. This is especially useful for open charging stations where strangers may be able to pick up your phone and browse while no one is looking. With that said, it is also wise to set a passcode on your device, so if anyone does take hold of your phone, they won't be able to gain access. If you own an Android phone with the Marshmallow (or newer) operating system, it is possible to change your settings to "USB Charging Mode" which means that no data will be transferred between the phone and power supply.
5: Charge Somewhere FamiliarPublic phone charging stations are popping up everywhere, but it is also wise to keep in mind what type of business or establishment you find yourself needing to recharge at. If this is a small business or even your own workplace, then the odds are that you are safe. If this is a high-traffic area such as an airport or shopping mall, then err on the side of caution, or at the very least check your ports. If you are familiar with the staff, it can also be wise to simply ask them if these are power-only charge ports or if the charging station can also transfer data.
The TakeawayThere is a lot of fear circulating the question of whether public phone charging stations are safe or not. While many fear the physical theft of their device, it can become much more costly for personal data to be stolen. To be clear, while it is possible for hackers to tamper with these charge ports, it is incredibly rare and difficult for them to successfully pull off an operation such as this, especially in a high-traffic environment. Still, there are many ways to protect yourself and your data from malicious intent by utilizing power-only cables, portable power banks, USB data blockers, or simply turning your phone off while charging.
Displays2go is a powerhouse in the industry, and supplies our customers with an extensive line of phone charging stations. These models include multi-tier lockers to protect your device from physical theft or tampering, as well as open models with customizable signage ideal for advertising. Place floor standing, countertop, and wall-mounted phone charging stations in accessible yet supervised areas. We care about keeping your data and phone safe, and encourage our customers to do the same while offering these convenient power supplies to their guests.