In the modern world, there are already many options to charge a smartphone in public places — from power banks in cafes to benches with solar panels in parks. Among such devices, there are also special charging stations that are installed in airports, train stations, shopping centers, etc. And the FBI advises avoiding them.

The bureau believes there is currently a high risk of devices being infected with malware and users being tracked by such stations, and advises using your own chargers instead.

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. Carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead.

The problem is the so-called Juice Jacking — installing malicious software on smartphones or copying data from the device while charging from public stations. And regardless of the modern protection of smartphones with iOS or Android, none of the systems is capable of 100% data protection. For example, the iPhone when connected may ask if the connected device should be trusted, to which some users answer yes without hesitation.

The FBI also has separate note on how to better protect your data and not get into trouble on the Internet, which also includes the issue of public charging stations.