How to Safely Use Airport Charging Stations

Public charging can be risky, but there are ways to keep your data secure

Stroll through any airport terminal, and you'll likely spot a USB charging station inviting you to charge your phone before your flight. If you didn't bring your portable charger or AC power adapter, we have a couple of tips to help you safely charge your phone at an airport charging station.

Traveler charging phone in airport.
Towfiqu Ahamed / Getty Images

Use a USB Data Blocker

USB cables have two functions. USB cables transfer data between devices and charge connected devices. You can connect a USB data blocker like the Juice-Jack Defender or the PortaPow USB Data Blocker to ensure that the USB cable only charges your device and doesn't allow access to your data.

Use a Power-Only USB Cable

If you don't need to charge multiple devices with different connections, it may be more convenient to carry a power-only USB cable.

Power-only USB cables look identical to regular USB cables. However, these cables only allow the transfer of power from the charging station to your phone. With no data connection between your device and the charging station, there's no path for malware to reach your device.

Why You Should Use a USB Data Blocker or Power-Only Cable in Airport Charging Stations

Attackers can pass malware to a connected device (your phone) by installing modified USB sockets into an airport's charging station. The malicious code in these USB sockets can transmit data from your phone to the attacker's remote servers, even after your smartphone is disconnected from the USB socket.

When you connect a USB data blocker or power-only USB cable, the only thing that passes between the airport charging station and your phone is power.

You Can Safely Use Airport USB Charging Stations

Even though the threat of data theft is real, you shouldn't let it deter you from using USB charging stations. With a barrier between your charger and the airport charging station, you can prevent data theft and malware attacks.