Charging your phone in ride-sharing services, airports could put your information at risk

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Charging your phone could give hackers easy access to your information. You might not find out about it until it's too late.

Ever charged your phone using a ride-sharing service? That could put your information at risk.

"What happens is that you tend to sync your contacts to really any type of device that you go and plug into. As a result, you're giving your Uber or Lyft driver a lot more than you think you are doing," Professor Justin Cappos, a Digital Security Expert with New York University's Tandon School of Engineering said.

Charging your phone may sound like a simple thing, but Cappos says you may want to think twice about where you do it. Your data could be captured by the car's audio system.

"It's really not only a gold mine for somebody who may want to stalk you or find out other information, but advertisers are also very interested in this kind of data," Cappos said.

We're told hackers are also setting up fake charging stations at airports just to get your information. Tech experts say the cord you use to charge your phone also sends data from your phone to other devices. If the USB port is compromised then hackers can possibly get whatever information is on your phone.

"Back in the old days when you had a separate power and a data plug, that in some way is more secure, because you knew if I just want power, I can plug in and I can only power for my battery. But now that everything is together, you really don't have any way of knowing about this, and bad guys have exploited this," Cappos said.

This now has the attention of Congress. The House subcommittee of Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection recently approved the Self Drive Act. One portion deals with automobile cybersecurity requiring manufactures to develop a written cybersecurity policy for manufacturers to detect and respond to cyber attacks and other unauthorized intrusions. In other words, some lawmakers want your information to stay with you and no one else.

"This would be a small positive step in the right direction to pass legislation like this. It's a strange world and I'm just continuously amazed at what people are willing to give to these big companies and give to complete strangers just shows how trusting many people are," Cappos said.

So how do you protect yourself? Try and keep your phone unplugged unless it's in your vehicle or buy one of those portable chargers. You can also lock your phone. That will most likely not allow it to pair with charging stations at airports.

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