Published in El Pais, 26th of November 2019.
Of course, everyone knows the importance of smart phones. Everyone is constantly glued to them and thus they are constantly needing to charge their phone. For this reason, many places where you are expected to spend a long amount of time such as airports, train stations and hospitals now have designated charging stations with special USB plugs, so you do not even need an outlet converter. These are quite popular as everyone is constantly crowding them in order to keep their precious phone from dying. Unfortunately, we cannot trust people to not ruin a good thing. For instance, someone has figured out how to compromise these charging stations and transfer a virus through your USB charger to hack into your phone.
As surprising as this may be for some, I am surprised it took this long for this to happen. Everyone knows you can transfer things like pictures, music and files from your computer to your phone so it was only a matter of time before this could be used for a hacker’s monetary gain. So the next time you are in a situation where you need to charge your phone in public, consider taking one of these precautions to avoid being the next victim.
- Use a power bank. Now there are many affordable power banks out there that provide enough power for multiple charges. This allows you to stay away from charging stations all together.
- Use a USB data blocker. These nifty little devices would prevent any viruses from uploading to your phone should you still decided to use public charging stations. The price is reasonable and might be worth putting your mind at ease.
- A power outlet. Hackers are not able to get into your phone through traditional outlets (yet) so while they may not be as conveniently located it may be best to search for a traditional power outlet to charge your phone.
This may seem a little overboard, but we keep a lot of information on our phone and it would only take one incident to have a lasting impact on your life.