The Dangers of Using Airport Charging Stations

Many people are unaware of the dangers of using airport charging stations. Many of us have used the handy USB charging stations at airports, however, new research from IBM security has revealed that cyber criminals are modifying the USB connections to install malware on your phone or download data without your knowledge.

“Plugging into a public USB port is kind of like finding a toothbrush on the side of the road and deciding to stick it in your mouth, you have no idea where that thing has been,” says Caleb Barlow, Vice President of X-Force Threat Intelligence at IBM Security.  “And remember that that USB port can pass data.”

Whilst this may seem a little paranoid, Barlow says it’s smart to worry about public USB power stations. The 2019 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index has revealed the transportation industry has become a priority target for cybercriminals; it has risen to the 2nd most attacked industry – up from tenth in 2017. Frighteningly, over 566 million records from the transportation and travel industry have been compromised or leaked in publicly reported breaches.

So what should you do when you see that tell-tale ‘battery low’ warning on your mobile phone when travelling?

The safest course of action is to bring your own charger along and plug it in to a wall outlet, or bring a portable power bank to recharge your phone. Or (perish the thought!) let your battery go flat and wait until you arrive at your destination before recharging.

If you insist on using a public USB port, Barlow recommends a dongle called a Juice Jack Defender that essentially blocks any data from passing down the cord. This help limit the dangers of using airport charging stations.

If you’d like any further information, assistance with your IT support or technology or you don’t know where to start please call us on 1300 478 738 or email us at

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About the author:

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Ash Klemm

Ash has over 20 years of experience in sales and marketing. His journey from a casual salesperson at Chandlers to State Manager at a national IT distribution company, while battling health issues, including a double lung transplant in 2015, gave him the experience, know-how, tenacity, and marketing insight, to find solutions and help businesses grow. After spending several years in the ivory tower of state management, Ash missed the genuine connection of face to face meetings and helping make a difference to businesses in need. His authentic, conversational, and easy-going nature helps our customers feel at ease and shows them we are a brand to trust. Ash spends his days advocating for our customers to ensure they receive the best possible service in a timely fashion. Ash is also the in house chair builder. His curiosity and natural problem-solving ability make him the perfect first call for all our new customers to help determine what is wrong, how Surety IT can help and what the best solutions are moving forward.
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