As privacy concerns rise because of government decisions, shady Apps installed on our phones and Social Networks selling our data, a new threat has been uncovered. Airport USB chargers may not be as harmless as they seem. Let’s see how you can defend yourself.

Commodity versus risk

If you’ve ever travelled by plane, you know the pressure companies put on you to arrive on time. This results in lots of people waiting for their gate to open. And, in 2019, a long wait means a lot of time spent on the phone. Big screens, big fun, right? The only issue is that the more screens increase in size, the less battery life phones have. Because of this, the hunt to the closest power outlet gets people plugging their phones into whatever they can find. Whether it’s a conventional plug or a USB charger. But this comes at a risk.

In an interview with Forbes, Caleb Barlow, Vice President of X-Force Threat Intelligence at IBM Security said that we shouldn’t plug our phones into USB chargers because they can pass data. Hackers can program them to install malicious software on your phone. This software will steal our personal data, such as passwords and our banking info. If this seems to scaremongering to you, we advise reading this article from IBM. According to their research, the transportation industry is the second most cyber-attacked industry.

How to prevent USB chargers attacks

The easiest way to avoid these threats altogether is to only use power outlets. This way you’ll be using your phone charger, which can’t be programmed. Another way is to invest in a portable charger. The only issue is that you’ll have to remember to charge it beforehand. If you can’t help but plugging into a USB charger, then you might find this tool to be handy. It prevents data from passing through USB chargers, so that you can plug your phone without worries.

Travel related threats

Carleb Barlow goes on to explain that USB chargers are not the only threat. Many hackers leave USB drivers and Apple charging cord unattended. This makes people think that someone left them behind. But these are no regular accessories. They have been programmed to quietly steal your data while charging your device. Unfortunately, while USB ports are very useful to transfer data and power, they are very unsafe. That’s why, according to Barlow, many companies are completely banning USB sticks in favour of just downloading data from a safe connection to the cloud.

But the threats don’t come exclusively from physical components. The free wi-fi that many airport offer can be easily attacked. This is why you should never use online banking while on a public wi-fi. And why you should always use a VPN, which creates a secure and private connection to the Internet. This way, nobody will be able to spy on you. For a list of the best VPNs on the market, click here!

Keep yourself informed!

In this day an age where all of our private data passes through our phone, it’s very important to know how to defend ourselves. While a VPN may do most of the work for us, we should know that there are other threats to be aware of. If you wish to keep up with all the latest privacy news, read our blog!

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