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We’ve all been there. You’re in the mall or airport and need to quickly charge your phone before you head into another store or catch your flight. Malls, retail stores, and airports now have appealing charging stations and kiosks where you can use your personal USB cable to charge your phone. Those charging stations and kiosks may not raise suspicion because they seem innocent and nothing could go wrong by using a simple charging station or kiosk, right?
Wrong. In fact, that charging station could be used to steal the data from your phone or tablet. Those USB charging stations and kiosks could have malware to steal your personal information and your money. This is referred to as ‘juice jacking’ and it takes less than one minute for the virus to be transferred to your phone or tablet.
As we head into the last weeks before the holidays, many of us will be heading to malls to find some last-minute gifts or to the airport for some holiday travel. If you find yourself with a low battery on your mobile device, beware of using the charging stations and kiosks you see in the airports and retail stores.
Have you heard of the term juice jacking? If you haven’t, we want to open your eyes to this vastly important piece of information. Juice jacking refers to the process of someone hacking and infecting your device with malware or spyware when you attempt to charge it at a public charging station or kiosk.
Hackers can steal your device’s personal and sensitive data while you are charging it. Hackers use malicious software implanted in the charging station or kiosk to steal data. This can be achieved through the USB charger plugged directly into the outlet. USBs have the ability to transmit data, unlike two-prong adapters which only transmit power. The tactic is similar to how a skimmer operates to steal your debit or credit card information. However, juice jacking can potentially steal all the data you have stored on your devices, such as account credentials, passwords, contacts, emails, and more.
Public charging stations can now be found anywhere where we can plug in our charger to charge our device. When you plug your charger into the public charging station or kiosk, everything will seem fine. Your device will receive the power it needs and will begin to charge, but there are things that you don’t see when your phone is charging. Behind the charging station, there could be a device that infects your device with this dangerous malware.
Once the malware makes its way into your device via your charger, the cybercriminal will have access to everything on your device. Your device will not just belong to you, it will also belong to the hacker because the malicious software allows the hacker to control applications and read the information on your device. The spyware or malware allows the hacker to read your private messages, see your contacts, view your transactions, and see your bank account information.
Even after you unplug your device from the public charging station or kiosk, the spyware or malware will remain on your device and the hacker will continue to have control of your device. The hacker will even be able to control your device’s camera and can take pictures of you.
While you may think you will never get juice jacked, you should always be aware that the possibility will always exist. Juice jacking is a risk for those who rely on their mobile devices to send and receive sensitive client or customer information via a phone or tablet. Sound familiar? How do we protect ourselves from this real-life threat?
To avoid becoming the next victim of juice jackers, the best advice is to not use kiosks and public charging stations. You can easily purchase a power bank and keep it fully charged. When your device runs out of battery power, you can just plug your phone into your power bank to recharge it.
Here are more ways to avoid being juice jacked:
You need your device when you are on the road, to order an Uber or Lyft once your flight lands, or browse social media while waiting to board the plane. Instead of putting your phone and sensitive data in the hands of a random USB port in an airport or mall, find a power outlet and use your USB charging adapter. Power will quickly flow from the outlet through the adapter, into your personal USB cable, and into your device.
These old-fashioned power outlets do one thing: transmit electricity. Charging your device the ‘old-fashioned’ way will eliminate the possibility of exposing your device and data to danger. We know that it can be difficult to find an available wall outlet, especially at an airport. It can be like finding a needle in a haystack. There may even be a line of people waiting for a turn to charge their low battery devices.
Outsmart everybody by bringing along your own charging bank. Portable power charging banks are a great solution when you are on the road because of their compact designs. You just use your USB cable to charge your device, and you will have mobile power. Many people are unaware of juice jacking, which is part of the reason why it is so dangerous.
By simply plugging a phone or tablet into a public charging station or kiosk, you could walk away with an infected phone. Charging stations and kiosks are used by people across the globe. Juice jacking gives hackers a direct line to your device. Always have a device around to prevent these malicious actors from accessing your personal and sensitive information. Be safe online and offline.
The next time your device runs low on battery in a public place, make sure you’re prepared so you can give your phone the juice it needs without being juice jacked. At Colorado Computer Support, our team is here to help you get a better idea of the health of your organization’s IT security. Contact us today to schedule a consultation or to learn more about today’s latest security threats.