Juice-Jacking! Protect Yourself With USB Condoms and External Batteries

August 2014: Did you ever notice that the port on your smartphone is used for both charging your battery and transferring data? How convenient! For you and the bad guys.

Juice-Jacking is when people download your data (or upload malware) while you’re charging your phone at a public charging station or using a charger that’s not your own. To prevent it, you need to practice safe charging! And hop on the latest protection tools:

Option 1: Block the data pins
Two products literally wrap your data port in a protective rubber sleeve — USB Condoms ($9.99) and Juice-Jack Defender (pre-orders for September delivery, price not yet set). KrebsOnSecurity reports they work by disabling the USB cable’s data pins so only the power pins connect. So while power gets in, malware does not. And your data stays right where it should — on your phone. LockedUSB ($19.99 or two for $37.99) does the same thing but is a small blue box instead of a sleeve.

Option 2: Use an external battery
Think of an external battery like a wireless charger — just plug your phone into it and you’ll get a full or nearly full charge, depending on your smartphone model. No stranger danger whatsoever! There are dozens of options on the market, and some are as small as a tube of lipstick so they’re easy to carry around. See what’s available from Anker, Jackery and RAVPower. Just remember to charge it before you leave!

Option 3: In an emergency, power down
But just like the charger that came with your phone, Options 1 and 2 won’t work if you forget to bring them along. So what should you do if you absolutely must charge up from an unknown source? Power off your device. It’s harder to get data in or out of your device when the power’s not on.

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