Ready to unplug this summer with some travel? Be careful where you plug in

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Free, public phone charging stations are everywhere these days as a convenient solution to a low phone battery while we’re on the go. But cybercriminals are smartening up and have learned how to steal your data while you’re powering up. This hacking trend is called “juice jacking,” according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

“Malware installed through a corrupted USB port can lock a device or export personal data and passwords directly to the perpetrator,” the FCC warned in a recent alert.

The FBI instead recommends bringing your own portable charger to plug it directly into an electrical outlet. Additionally, the FCC encourages travelers to purchase charging-only cables that cannot transfer data and to be aware of prompts saying “share data” or “charge only” when using a USB port.

“Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centers. Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices,” the FBI Denver office shared on social media.

If you travel, along with bringing your own charger, use your phone’s wireless hotspot rather than the hotel Wi-Fi for work-related projects. And always make sure your devices are up to date with the latest software and firmware.