Public charging ports can hack your phone: Report

Charging your smartphones at public charging points or computers using USB cables can be risky as it makes easy for hackers to hack your phone, states scientists including one of Indian-origin.

To ensure accessibility of smartphones and data everytime, public charging stations and Wi-Fi access points are found at places like airports, café or on public transport. But connecting your smartphones to an unknown port is risky because the cord used for charging the device is also used for transferring data from one device to another.

Researchers at security firm Kaspersky Labs found that they were able to install third-party app onto the phone using USB cord connected to a computer and also, were able to take out private data while charging phone from computer. There is no limit to what extent a hacker can take the information, Drew Paik of Security Firm Authentic8 told.

“The security risks here are obvious: if you are a regular user, you can be tracked through your device IDs; your phone could be silently packed with anything from adware to ransomware. And, if you are a decision-maker in a big company, you could easily become the target of professional hackers,” said Alexey Komarov, researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

To avoid the risk of getting hacked, one should not use USB ports for charging at public places, instead, one can invest in a USB cords that are wireless to transmit data and prevent hijacking phone’s information. Carrying a battery pack will also protect your personal information.

But, Paik said, it is better to rely on your personal charger.

“If you are concerned about security, don’t use public ports,” Paik said. “If you are desperate and need to upload your selfie, take your chances.”

How to protect your phone:

• Charge your phone into trusted computers, using trusted USB cables.
• Lock your phone with a password, pin or fingerprint recognition, and don’t unlock it while charging.
• Always use encrypted apps for communication.
• Keep an antivirus in your phone since they can detect ‘malware’ even if a ‘charging’ vulnerability is used.
• Keep updating your phones to recent version as that have up-to-date bug fixes.


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