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Please Don't Use Airport USB Ports To Charge Your Phone (But Don't Panic Either)

As we gear up for holiday travel, cybersecurity experts advise us away from USB charging ports in airports and other public spaces. (Gero Breloer/AP)
As we gear up for holiday travel, cybersecurity experts advise us away from USB charging ports in airports and other public spaces. (Gero Breloer/AP)

As travelers gear up for the holidays, cybersecurity experts advise staying away from USB charging ports in airports and other public spaces, which could steal data from an unlocked device or even install malware.

But Engin Kirda, professor of computer science at Northeastern University, says it’s easy to take precautions — and unless you’re a diplomat or a CEO in a foreign country, you probably don’t need to stress out.

How To Avoid Putting Yourself At Risk:

1. Don’t use the USB charging ports found in public places. (Regular outlets are fine to plug your charger into.)

2. If you need to use a USB charging port, “it’s always a good idea to lock and encrypt your device and while it’s attached never to unlock it,” says Kirda.

3. Buy a cable that blocks USB data transfers and allows you to charge in peace.


Francesca Paris produced this interview and edited it for broadcast with Tinku Ray. Paris also adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.