Juice jacking: Beware of charging your phone in public USB ports

Juice jacking: Beware of charging your phone in public USB ports

BOSTON — Technology is probably the last thing that comes to mind when talking about "juice jacking".

While it has a weird name, the increasingly common way of hacking smartphones has become more prevalent in major cities and towns, claiming more and more victims.

Juice jacking happens when an unsuspecting person plugs their phone in a public USB port that's been hacked with a virus.

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Scammers will "infect" the port so whenever you plug your device to charge it up, the virus goes right into the device and can steal usernames, passwords and even spy on you.

"It's a really simple scam where bad guys will infect the chargers so that when you plug your device in, that virus goes right onto your device and it spies on everything you do: usernames, passwords, credit cards, websites visited - the bad guy could see everything," said Security Expert Robert Siciliano.

The simple solution? Don't plug in directly into USB ports. Experts say that using an adapter and plugging it into a socket on the wall is completely fine.

Investing in an external battery is also a good idea and can charge your phone without the need for an outlet.

And when experts say be wary of public ports, they mean anywhere that is not your own home. Airports, bus stops and even hotel rooms aren't safe.

"Anywhere there is a charging device, whether I'm on the hotel and airport a plane, you need to be aware and know that it's a possibility you could get a virus especially if you have an android mobile phone," said Siciliano.

"You never know when people are gonna use my information for work or steal my money from the bank," said Mauricio Santamaria, of Lynn.

Keep this in mind as you prepare for holiday travels. Pack your patience, your neck pillow and a portable battery.