As the smartphone has become a constant companion, there are more and more public charging stations. Many people will find this extremely practical – especially at airports, train stations, etc. But more and more authorities are warning about data fraud. Her recommendation: a USB condom as protection.

More and more people are charging their smartphones at public charging stations. This can be extremely practical, especially at airports or train stations. But a power bank is often the better option. Public charging stations are now increasingly being misused by cybercriminals. Their goal: data theft.

USB charging stations: Criminals can infiltrate your smartphone

In professional circles, this form of cybercrime is also called “juice jacking”. This refers to cyber attacks that occur via the power supply of smartphones, tablets, laptops and the like. Since this form of data theft is increasing more and more, more and more authorities are currently sounding the alarm.

This also applies to the US communications authority Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which warned of juice jacking at public charging stations in an official statement in April 2023. “Malicious actors” would inject malware into public USB charging stations to access electronic devices while they are charging. The FCC says:

Malware installed through a damaged USB port can lock a device or export personal data and passwords directly to the perpetrator. Criminals can then use this information to access online accounts or sell them to other criminals.

USB condom can protect your smartphone at public charging stations

The FCC and other authorities therefore recommend some measures to avoid juice jacking. The basic rule is that you should always have your own charging cable and power plug with you when traveling. Ideally, you can charge your devices using either your own power bank or an AC socket. You should avoid third-party devices.

If you still want or need to use a public USB charging station, you should use a so-called USB condom. This is a USB adapter that blocks potential data transfer and only allows pure charging current to pass through to your device.

The adapters are like small USB sticks – with the difference that you can plug your charging cable into them. The price for such USB condoms is between five and 30 euros. As with your charging cable, you should make sure to buy hardware from trustworthy providers when purchasing.

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