Most of us are aware that using public chargers presents a significant security risk, but the FBI has just released a notice urging people not to plug their phones into public charging stations that also house the chargers of others.
Hackers may now easily infect devices at public charging stations, making sensitive information and even money accessible for theft. The hackers infect the charging devices with malware in an attack known as “juice jacking,” after another name for the attack.
It’s not hard to pull off, and most folks won’t even suspect foul play. Yet, recent events have highlighted the risks associated with these power outlets. The fact that the FBI is disseminating such an advisory should be brought to the attention of everyone who might have ignored it before.
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FBI Denver has said in a tweet that avoid using free charging stations in airports:
Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centers. Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices. Carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead. pic.twitter.com/9T62SYen9T
— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) April 6, 2023
Since individuals will always require their phones to be charged, especially while traveling, juice jacking becomes a simple technique to attack users. Those who forget to carry an adapter or who have already packed theirs away in their main luggage may appreciate the availability of a public charging station.
Bringing your own charger and cable can protect you from this type of attack. After all, the main tool of the malicious actor is the USB cable that is attached to the phone in order to charge it, which can then infect your device with malware. We’ve discussed juice jacking in-depth, and these warnings are often passed about.
But, keep in mind that one of the world’s most influential law enforcement agencies has issued a warning against utilizing public charging stations due to security concerns the next time you decide to fly and use these charging stations.