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Eye On Cyber: Beware Of Juice Jacking At Public Charging Stations

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- You're waiting at the airport for a plane and notice your phone is low on power.

You spot a charging station nearby and plug into the handy USB port for a quick pre-flight infusion.

Within seconds, a hacker has stolen your contacts and photos and downloaded spyware on your phone.

As it turns out, those increasingly ubiquitous public USB ports can be laced with spy software, and when you connect to them with your USB cord and your phone or another power-thirsty device, it can transfer not just power, but spyware, too.

In fact, it can even lock your phone up entirely.

This particular cyberattack risk, known as "juice jacking," could lurk in coffee shops or in airplanes, hospitals and even rental cars.

The good news is it's actually very easy to protect your device.

CBS2's cybersecurity expert Siobhan Gorman says the easiest fix is to always use an AC adapter when charging your phone, so you can plug it into an electrical socket. This will ensure only power enters your device, not a hacker.

You can also get an external charger or a power-only USB cable that doesn't transfer data. And in a rental car, you can use a charger that plugs into an electrical port or cigarette lighter.

Cyberthreats find their ways into some unexpected electrical crannies, but in the case of juice jacking, just being aware of the threat and how to bypass it is all you need to avoid getting jacked.

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