You’ve probably seen those big boxes at your airport or mall. Your cellphone is about to die and, for your convenience, there is a quick public cellphone charging kiosk where you can have you phone charged in 10 minutes. These sound great, but there’s a big risk with these charging stations. Nowadays, the charging port on your phone is also your data connection when syncing your phone. Malicious people are becoming smarter and taking advantage of these public cellphone charging kiosks by putting their own hardware inside that can download all of your cellphone data.

You might not thing twice about using these public cellphone charging kiosks; after today you might not want to ever use one again. Take into account that official airport charging kiosks might not be equally suspect, but it’s still a possibility.

Inside of a malicious public cellphone charging kiosk, you’ll find a small computer that probably has many USB cords coming out of it to fit the major phone brands, or sometimes it will have an external USB port so that users who bring their own USB chargers can use it quickly. The computer inside the malicious public cellphone charging kiosk will start to download information as soon as you plug it in.

Beware of malicious public cellphone charging kioskThese malicious public cellphone charging kiosks can take such information as your phone number, contacts, and other personal data from the device. They can also download your cell network information as well and use that information to make calls from your number and send text messages that might run up your bill.

The safest you can be when you need to charge your cellphone in public is to use your own power cord that plugs into a regular wall outlet and not a potentially malicious public cellphone charging kiosk. If you cannot find a power outlet on the go, you might want to take a look at mobile charging options — like a commercially available battery with a connector for your phone on the other end. These are the preferred options, but if you must use a public cellphone charging kiosk, power down your device completely before you plug it in.

Happy chargings!