Recently, cyber security company Kaspersky Lab issued a report detailing the dangers posed by the simple act of recharging your phone through someone else’s computer or at a public charging station as are commonly found in airports. The problem stems from the fact that information is transferred between your smartphone and the charger as soon as you plug your smartphone into the computer or charging station you are using to recharge your smartphone. Among the information that is transferred is the name of your device, the manufacturer and model, serial number, firmware information, file system and electronic chip ID which would all be shared with a computer that you may be using to recharge your phone. And while this information may seem to be innocuous, this information is sufficient for a sophisticated hacker to use to gain much further information from your smartphone that could be used to your detriment. As for the charging stations at airports and elsewhere, they can be either infected with malware or be a fake charging station with the sole purpose of infecting your smartphone. Once you plug your phone into one of those already infected charging stations or a totally phony charging station, it can install and delete applications, including stealing your data or installing ransomware.
So what can you do? Obviously, you should never use a strange computer to recharge your phone. The risk is too great. As for charging stations, confirm that it is a legitimate charging station and not a fake one before you connect your smartphone. Make sure that your smartphone is secured with a password, fingerprint or iris scanners and do not unlock the smartphone while it is charging. Always protect the data on your smartphone with encryption programs and finally, use security software programs for your smartphone and make sure that it is updated with the latest security patches.