Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

FBI: Don’t use public phone charging stations

The FBI is advising people to cease use of public smartphone charging stations because of concerns over malware.

The Feds’ Denver office says charging areas at places like hotels and airports have been commandeered by bad actors. Plugging in to the free-to-use stations may lead to your device becoming infected with malware or monitoring software, the FBI says.

Instead the agency is advising users to bring their own cables and charging bricks and use the power outlets instead.

In a tweet, the Denver office writes: “Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centres. 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.”

Abiding by the Feds’ advice would make charging your phone at the airport a little trickier. There are only so many electrical outlets at the airport and those are often in high demand. The alternative of course is to bring your own external battery.

We haven’t seen any widespread documented cases of phone users being exposed to malware via public charging areas. However, there have been reports of a malicious version of the iPhone lightning cable, which can infect users’ handsets.

The Federal Communications Commission in the United States often warns of so-called “juice jacking”.

The FCC website says: “If your battery is running low, be aware that juicing up your electronic device at free USB port charging stations, such as those found near airport gates, in hotels and other travel-friendly locations, could have unfortunate consequences. You could become a victim of “juice jacking,” a new cyber-theft tactic.

“Cybersecurity experts have warned that criminals can load malware onto public USB charging stations to maliciously access electronic devices while they are being charged. Malware installed through a dirty USB port can lock a device or export personal data and passwords directly to the perpetrator. Criminals can use that information to access online accounts or sell it to other bad actors.”

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.

Trusted Reviews Logo

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the best of Trusted Reviews delivered right to your inbox.

This is a test error message with some extra words