How many times have you been out and about only to realise your phone’s battery is running dangerously low? Well, if you’re one of the thousands of people who don’t hesitate to take out your charger and plug your phone in to an available USB port or power point, you could be putting yourself at risk.

Data security experts have found a growing number of public ports to be compromised by hackers, who, just like when you transfer data from your phone to your computer via USB, can download photos, messages, contacts and more.

“Just by plugging your phone into a [compromised] power strip or charger, your device is now infected, and that compromises all your data,” Security expert Drew Paik from Authentic8 told CNN.

With so many shopping centres, airports, hospitals and other public places now offering charging hubs, it’s never been easier for hackers. So, aside from avoiding public outlets altogether – which can sometimes be impossible – what else can you do to protect your data?

Here are our top tips:

  • Ensure your phone is fully charged before leaving the house.
  • Invest in a decent portable charger.
  • Look into purchasing a USB cord which can charge your phone, but won’t transfer data.
  • If you have no choice but to use a public port, ensure your phone is secured with a PIN to give yourself the best chance of avoiding hackers.

Article created in partnership with Over60.