When powering your phone, computer or tablet, steer clear of “juice-jacking” risks.

You probably already know connecting to publicly available Wi-Fi may be risky, even if it requires a password. But did you also know charging your devices using publicly available outlets or ports may also leave your information exposed?

Known informally as “juice jacking,” this sort of cyber risk could, in theory, happen through any outlet or port that is compromised by hackers. And because many chargers transmit data and power through the same connection, victims could be showing the entire contents of their device: emails, webpages, contacts — potentially everything.

“Okay, so now I can’t plug my phone into any public charging source anymore?” you may be asking. While there are always risks to doing so, here are 3 precautions you can take before powering up outside your home:

  1. Avoid USB ports.

You know those thin jacks you can use to charge your phone from your computer? If you’re tempted to charge your device using a public version of one of those types of ports, you may want to stay away and find a regular electrical outlet instead. USB ports are particularly vulnerable to hacking since they transmit data and charge.

  1. Get your own portable USB battery pack.

This is another way to reduce your risk, and the technology on portable battery packs has advanced greatly. Portable charging doesn’t have to be clunky or expensive. There are many different kinds of portable chargers that can help you stay powered, safely, throughout the day.

  1. Buy a USB cord that doesn’t transmit data.

Another easy and relatively inexpensive way to reduce your risk is to buy a charging cord that doesn’t support data transfer. Just remember to bring the right cord with you!

Connecting on the go has continued to become easier, not just for you, but also for thieves. Enjoy the freedom that comes from mobile devices, but remember to be cautious and think twice before you plug in.

Reprinted from TransUnion credit newsletter.