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NYS Division of Consumer Protection Warns about Using Public USB Connections and WiFi

What's Meant for Your Convenience May Cause a Headache for your Privacy – Protect Yourself

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection is alerting consumers to public connections like USB and WIFI. Universal Service Bus (USB) is an industry standard for connection ports. WiFi is the industry term for the wireless internet connections created from internet modems. These ports are meant for convenience while consumers are “out and about,” but they can result in people skimming private data, malware installations, and other software deployments that are hard to detect and control.

New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "millions of people every day step out into the world, and all its surrounding technology.  As technology grows and continues to make our lives easier, it is also making it easier for hackers to get access to our information.  It is important for consumers to know what they can do to protect themselves."

Today, USB connections are available on all our devices, allowing us to charge, connect and network our devices and our data. Rather than having to connect directly to a server, WiFi allows us to wirelessly connect to the internet.  WiFi capabilities are also available on most devices today. 

As technology connections are made easier through USB and WiFi, the ability to connect to our devices is also easier for hackers.  Sometimes when a hacker connects, they send a message and freeze people’s data.  However, more frequently nowadays, a hacker says nothing and pushes their malware onto a device to gain continued access to more and more of a person’s private device data.

Looking to charge your phone before getting on that long-haul flight or that subway ride?

 

If you absolutely have to connect to check an email, shop, or schedule something important, take precautions:

 
If New York consumers have concerns navigating today’s digital landscape, DCP encourages them to complete the New York State Data Privacy Consumer Survey available here. INSERT hyperlink to https://www.ny.gov/content/new-york-state-data-privacy-consumer-survey  Survey results will be used to inform New York State policies regarding the online marketplace and social media, including possible new laws and regulations. 

DCP also provides voluntary mediation between a consumer and a business when a consumer has experienced a marketplace loss and been unsuccessful at reaching a resolution on their own.

The Consumer Assistance Helpline 1-800-697-1220 is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, excluding State holidays, and consumer complaints can be filed at any time at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection. The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.

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