Charging your phone in a public port? Don't get hacked. - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Charging your phone in a public port? Don't get hacked.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

You see them at airports and inside conference rooms at hotels; USB charging stations for mobile devices are popping up everywhere, but experts say they're a convenience that could end up costing consumers if hackers take control of the port's software.

"The cord you use to charge your phone is also used to send data," says Timothy Caminos, the owner of Super Geeks in Honolulu. "Every time you plug in, you're allowing access to everything on your phone." 

Over the past year, a handful of Caminos' clients have been what's referred to as 'juice-jacked.' In his experience, several of the cases were traced back to airports.

He says people who travel abroad are at increased risk.

"There's a lot of software now if you plug in there's no way your phone is going to be able to detect the port is compromised," said Caminos. "Anything you type in real time can be taken over.  Not only that, but anything on your phone -- emails, bank account numbers, passwords, videos, private information."

One visitor had a stunning reaction to news the charging ports could compromise his identity. 

"I'm stunned," said Jeff Minton.

Minton is visiting Hawaii by way of Pennsylvania.  After learning the risks, he says he'll stick with his traditional charger.

"That will be my first choice from now on," said Minton.

"If you really want to protect yourself, use the charger that came with your phone. The actual brick that plugs into the wall," said Caminos.

Another safe option is to purchase your own portable charger.

"It's convenient. It's easier than trying to find an outlet. The one I have you can charge your phone four times," said Leilani Becthel.

Caminos says there is anti-virus malware software you can put on your phone to help prevent being hacked. It runs about $50 a year.  

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