Watch Out for “Juice-Jacking” When Charging in Public

You might find yourself charging your phone or laptop from a public charging point at an airport, hotel or café. But did you know you need to watch out for “juice-jacking” when charging in public?

Public charging ports have been in the news after the FBI advises people to stop using them. Hackers are creating new ways to take over USB ports to install malware and monitoring software on devices as they charge.

Previously, “juice-jacking” was long thought to be a theoretical threat than real, but the technology in use to launch these attacks is getting cheaper and easier to use. This means criminals with not much expertise are able to use it.

How Does “Juice-Jacking” Work?

The most common way to commit these attacks is through charging cables. Both USB-C and Lightning cables have a dual purpose. They have pins for charging and for data.

You are only using the charging pins when you charge your device. But, an infected charging port or a cable that someone left behind can access both the charging and data ports without your knowledge.

When criminals access data pins, they can install malware onto your device which gives them additional access to your credentials and other data. Similar to hooking your phone into another person’s laptop.

The easiest way to watch out for juice-jacking when charging in public is to always use your own charger and cord. And plug it directly into a power outlet. If you have no choice but to use a public port, consider purchasing a USB data blocker. This prevents data from being stolen from your device as your charge.

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