More reasons to go apocalyptic on your smartphone and swap it for a prepaid burner: just plugging the thing in to charge exposes all the data to a malicious third party. All they have to do is set up a FREE! charging kiosk, and they get to hoover up smartphone memory-dumps while dropping malware.
The few people I’ve asked while researching this story said they use these charging kiosks all the time (usually while on travel), but then said they’d think twice next time after I mentioned the possible security ramifications of doing so. Everyone I asked was a security professional.[…]
“We’d been talking about how dangerous these charging stations could be. Most smartphones are configured to just connect and dump off data,” Markus said. “Anyone who had an inclination to could put a system inside of one of these kiosks that when someone connects their phone can suck down all of the photos and data, or write malware to the device.”
To make their charging station more attractive to passersby, Markus and his pals equipped it with a variety of charging cables to fit the most popular wireless devices. When no device was connected, the LCD screen fitted into the charging station displayed a blue image with the words “Free Cell Phone Charging Kiosk.” The screen switched to a red warning sign when users plugged in any devices. The warning message read:
“You should not trust public kiosks with your smart phone. Information can be retrieved or downloaded without your consent. Luckily for you, this station has taken the ethical route and your data is safe. Enjoy the free charge!”
Markus said the comments from those who chose to juice up their phones at the kiosk were the most rewarding part of the project.
“One guy that clearly seemed stressed and in a hurry to get his phone topped off said, ‘I don’t care, take my data, I need my phone charged to make a phone call!’””