PSA: FBI Says Stop Using Public USB Charging Ports Due to Malware Risk

PSA: FBI Says Stop Using Public USB Charging Ports Due to Malware Risk

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last week warned device users to stop using public USB ports, due to malware risks. The Denver FBI office Tweeted that public charging stations found in airports, hotels, and shopping malls can be used by hackers to perform malware attacks. (Via CNBC)

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.

Public USB ports can be used to install malware on a user’s laptop, smartphone, or tablet. This allows bad actors to access sensitive data on the compromised device, including usernames and passwords, email, financial information, and more.

Users should use their own charger and USB cord, finding an electrical outlet for charging devices in place of a public USB port.

While iPhone and Mac users are somewhat protected by a USB security feature that prevents the Lightning port from being used for data transfer purposes when the device has been locked for an hour. However, the feature does not block malware installation if you are actively using your device and are connected to a public charging port.

The FBI has also posted the warning on its website, along with solid advice on how to avoid other device-related security and privacy perils.