3 easy ways to protect yourself from getting hacked in public spaces

3 easy ways to protect yourself from getting hacked in public spaces
Protect yourself while traveling. mimagephotography/Shutterstock
Protect yourself while traveling. mimagephotography/Shutterstock

Imagine this: You’re sitting on the subway minding your own business, when a message pops up on your iPhone. Someone wants to share an image with you, it says. Curious, you agree to accept the image, only to discover it’s a photo of a penis.

The latest method men use to harass women in public spaces, according to a New York Post report, is AirDrop — an iPhone feature that allows anyone nearby to send a file to your devices.

Unfortunately, sending unsolicited dick pics is just one of many ways people can violate your phone and computer in public — and you could, unknowingly, be putting yourself at risk.

Here are three tips to keep yourself and your devices safe from prying eyes when you’re out and about.

1. Use public Wi-Fi sparingly

Comcast’s Xfinity xFi Wi-Fi service
Comcast’s Xfinity xFi Wi-Fi service Jeff Fusco/AP

Public Wi-Fi is both a blessing and a curse. Being able to connect to the web wherever you go might be convenient, but you should probably avoid it if you’re at all concerned with privacy and security.

Public Wi-Fi is really easy to hack, and people could access your email, banking information or credit cards. You’re better off disabling Wi-Fi and using your data or a virtual private network to keep your internet usage encrypted.

2. Turn off AirDrop

AirDrop can be really handy if you’re using it with friends, but it’s not without risk. Your best bet is to keep your AirDrop turned off or in private mode. Here’s how to do that on your iPhone:

First, swipe up from your home screen to see your Control Center. You’ll find AirDrop there.

Find AirDrop on your iPhone.
Find AirDrop on your iPhone. Alexis Kleinman/Mic

Then tap on AirDrop to see your visibility options and specify whom you want to be able to send you files.

Decide who can access your AirDrop.
Decide who can access your AirDrop. Alexis Kleinman/Mic

3. Use a USB condom

OK, this sounds weird, but just bear with me. Your devices can be hacked if you plug your USB into a compromised outlet. To protect yourself, you should be using a condom. No, not a regular condom — a USB condom.

A USB condom slips onto your device’s charging cable and stops data from transferring, which means you can soak up the electricity without someone being able to get into your device and steal your data. Using the USB condom, you can plug into any outlet without fear of being hacked.

All of these tricks are pretty simple and easy, but the best way to protect your privacy is to refrain from opening email attachments from people you don’t know and to keep your phone and computer software updated.

Sign up for Tech Yeah! — your biweekly digest with a helpful and hilarious tech tip for upgrading your life. Yes, there’s a hack for that.