Charging kiosks: Threat or convenience?

Dec. 26, 2012

Secure smartphone charging kiosks are already a reality. Machines are hitting the streets that offer users a locked compartment to prevent thieves from swiping their device. But as a DefCon security conference proved, physical theft is not the only threat — the wires hidden behind the charger could be just as dangerous.

According to an article on, when a device is connected to a charging kiosk wire, someone with malicious intent could extract all of the data from it or write malware directly to the operating system. Even when the phone is set to charge only, an option on Android devices, the kiosk could still access the owner's information.

The safest route for charging your device on-the-go is to use the supplied power cord that plugs into a regular electrical outlet, assuming one is available. But if using a charging kiosk is the only option, the security experts recommend powering down the device.

"One thing we discovered: On certain devices, if you power them completely off, then charge them, they don't expose the data," said Brian Markus, president of Aires Security.

Read more about kiosk software security.

Topics: Airport Kiosks , Phone-charging Kiosks , Security , Software

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