You’re sitting at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and you notice that your iPhone battery is getting low. Your AC adapter isn’t handy but you do have your USB cable so you locate a charging station (pictured across), plug in and get a quick 15 minute top up before you board your flight.
There is a chance that your iPhone just got compromised! Think about it – when you connect your iPhone to your computer it synchronizes your iPhone to your iTunes account and has full access to your data, photos, music, etc. This, therefore, holds true for any USB port to which you connect your iPhone.
I’ve heard and read that it’s not difficult to tamper with these public kiosks and connect them to a small hidden computer. The moment you plug-in, malware is loaded onto your device in less than a minute. Once installed, the malware can then allow someone else to take remote control of your phone and see everything you see, including passwords. It can also go so far as to allowing the ‘bad guy’ to remotely make a call from the phone and eavesdrop on your telephone conversations. This becomes an even bigger problem when working in industries such as healthcare, where accessibility to patient healthcare information comes into play.
The key here is to always be aware in public places – here’s an older, but related, post for tips when using Public Wi-Fi.
So what can you do?
1) Don’t plug directly into a USB jack at a public kiosk.
2) Always bring a USB/AC Adapter with you when traveling – that way you can plug into any AC outlet and not have to worry about it.
But what if you’ve already used one of those public chargers before and are now wondering if you’ve been hacked? If you have, it’s going to show up as another profile on your phone. You can check as follows:
- Go to Settings
- Go to General
- Search for Profiles*
If you see an unknown profile running then you might have been hacked. If it’s a company- owned phone then check with your IT department first as they might have an administrative profile installed.
*If you’ve looked on your phone and you’re saying – wait a minute, I can’t find profiles in the General page. . . Well, neither could I. It turns out that the latest iOS7 update has removed this feature! Apple is aware of this issue and is working on an update to fix it. So, until they release the fix – don’t plug into any more public USB outlets!