AUGUSTA, Ga. (WFXG) - You may be getting ready to travel soon for the holidays. Before you plug your phone in somewhere as you’re on the go, or even buy a charger, you might want to think twice.

Local experts say don’t discount cyber threats anywhere.

“Anything is possible when you’ve had something around for long enough and it’s old enough.” said Harrison Howell, SRS Engineer.

Energy sources are no exception to potential breaches. 

“You can actually communicate over like, power, power sockets.” said Howell.

Howell says tools like these can fall into the wrong hands and you may not even know it. Your data can be compromised through things like cords or charging ports. It’s called juice jacking.

“That’s when somebody’s able to get access to the data on your phone when you’re trying to charge it. So, a lot of times, when you plug your phone in somewhere random, you don’t really know where that cord is coming from or what it has on it.” 

One thing you can do to better safeguard your information is keep the software updated on your devices.

“A lot of exploits come from like, you know, out of date software, out of date hardware. A lot of people don’t like updating their things because they’re afraid it won’t work, but if the alternative is losing your bank account number, I think the update is worth it.” 

Another tip, when it comes to buying,  stick to what you know with OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer products.

“Because those are built to the specification, they sort of have a responsibility to the customer you know that whatever they’re selling you shouldn’t have issues with it.”

Should you have a problem with your device, Howell says to always take it seriously.

“For more like energy-based things, there’s never just a blip.” 

  • Avoid using a USB charging station. Use an AC power outlet instead.
  • Bring AC, car chargers, and your own USB cables with you when traveling.
  • Carry a portable charger or external battery.
  • Consider carrying a charging-only cable, which prevents data from sending or receiving while charging, from a trusted supplier.

You’ll also want to look out for something Howell calls ‘Drive-by Wifi.’ That’s when a wifi access point looks like a name you trust, but it’s actually a bad actor on the other side. Always verify the connection and use a VPN if possible. You can read more about navigating internet connections here.

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