Charging in public places? Watch out for “juice jacking”

Public charging points are a common sight in airports, hotels, cafes, and shopping centres, allowing people to charge their phones and laptops while on the go. However, they have recently been in the news due to the FBI warning against their use. Criminals have found ways to hijack USB ports and install malware and monitoring software onto devices as they charge.

Although the security risk of “juice jacking” was once considered more theoretical than real, the tech needed to carry out such attacks has become smaller, cheaper, and easier to use. As a result, less sophisticated criminals are now turning to this method of attack.

The most common charging cables, including USB-C and lightning, are dual-purpose and have pins for charging and data. When charging a device, only the charging pins are used. However, a compromised charging port or a cable left behind could use both charging and data pins without the user’s knowledge.

When criminals use the data pins, they can install malware onto the device, giving them access to personal credentials and other data. This is similar to plugging a phone into someone else’s laptop.

To avoid this risk, it is best to always carry your own charger and cable and plug it into a power outlet. If using a public USB port is unavoidable, investing in a USB data blocker can help prevent data transfer while still allowing the device to charge.

At our company, we prioritise both security and productivity for businesses. If you need assistance in this area, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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