If you have a choice to use a free public USB charging station or a traditional electrical outlet, it’s best to use an outlet. Tim Erlin of information-technology-security company Tripwire says anyone can take over a charging station’s infrastructure and turn it into a phony Wi-Fi network. That gives them easy access to everything that’s on your hand-held device.
Consumers should be wary of public charging stations, which can be found in airports, hotels and restaurants and on college campuses, that show signs that they were tampered with, including having loose screws or cracked plastic or being out of alignment.
Scott Petry, who is the CEO and co-founder of Authentic8, ran a social experiment with his team at an IT-security conference in February 2017. They offered free use of a device-charging station, complete with cords and adapters, for attendees. Petry says “very few people said they wouldn’t [use the charging station].” Of those who used the station, 80 percent didn’t ask about its security.
In any circumstance, you can make it more difficult for your device to be compromised if you download software updates as recommended.