Public Charging Stations – Helpful or Hazardous?

Public Charging Stations. We all see them as we’re walking through airports or other public places. You may even think, “What a great idea!” as you walk by or maybe we’ve even used them before, but do we even think twice before plugging in? Chances are that most people don’t. In this article, we are going to make you aware of some of the associated risks with public charging stations and what you can do to safeguard your information.

Juice Jacking

So, what is juice jacking? It’s another form of cybercriminal activity where hackers use malware to not only read your data with a USB charging station, but they can also export your information, including passwords, right from your devices. This also gives them the ability to lock you out of your mobile devices, happening in as little as 60 seconds. Luckily, most devices now require permission before data transfers occur, making it a possible threat rather than imminent threat.

When cybercriminals are looking to steal data, they usually target contacts and photos on your devices. However, with juice jacking, certain victims become targets because they possess valuable information. Malware, however, is a threat that can affect anyone using a charging station. In this case, hackers inject a keylogger (a monitoring software used to collect keystrokes that you type) to record the user’s passwords. They can also use it to track the phone’s location, record calls or lock out the user altogether.

Prevention Tips

So, now that you know what juice jacking is and how hackers use it, here are some tips to help prevent you from falling victim:

  • Do not use public USB power charging stations
  • Be careful who you allow to use your devices
  • Do not use any charging cables and/or power banks that have been left by others
  • Use your own charging cables in electrical outlets
  • Use your own portable battery power bank or spare batteries (if applicable)
  • If you do have to use a public charging station, make sure your phone is locked with a pin
  • Use a charge-only cable to strictly allow for the transfer of power, not data
  • Use a USB data-blocker device to prevent data transfer

In today’s world, we use our phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices for a variety of things and use them to store so much of our information. Following these few simple tips will help to ensure your information is being protected. Obviously, juice jacking isn’t at the top of the cyberthreats list but it’s still something to be aware of and take preventative measures against.

If you have any questions regarding cybersecurity or would like suggestions of how to stay protected, you can contact Entre Technology Services—we’d love to hear from you!


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