Employers: Beware of Airport USB Charging Stations

Posted by Lea C. Dearing on

According to a recent Forbes article, cyberhackers have developed techniques for modifying airport USB charging stations to download data from unsuspecting travelers’ devices. This means that while a travelling employee is trying to charge a company phone or laptop, a hacker could be clandestinely stealing sensitive confidential information and trade secrets. The bottom line is this: travelling employees should avoid airport USB charging stations in order to keep company information secure.

There are several things employers can do to help traveling employees avoid the potential compromise of company information via airport and other public USB charging stations. First, and perhaps most importantly, employers can educate their employees about the hidden dangers of using public USB charging stations. Hosting training sessions about device security and writing new provisions for employee training manuals and handbooks are just a few ways employers could spread the word regarding this new threat. Second, employers can expressly prohibit traveling employees from charging company devices at public USB charging stations. Alternatively, employers can mandate that traveling employees use protective devices, like the Juice-Jack Defender mentioned in the Forbes article, when using a public USB charging station. Finally, employers can provide alternative charging options to their traveling employees, like portable, external batteries.

Employers are required to take reasonable steps to protect their sensitive company information. Implementing a policy that prohibits public USB charging may be worthy of consideration for some businesses. Staying up to date on cyberthreats and the innovative ways cyber criminals access data is an important part of an employer’s overall trade secret protection scheme. To keep your company’s information safe, avoid airport and other public USB charging stations.


Ben Perkins, a summer law clerk at Berman Fink Van Horn, contributed to this article.