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Look Out for Juice Jacking!

Don’t charge in public charging stations!

It’s convenient. You’re on the go. You’re running low on charge and, lo and behold, there is a charging station, right there, in the middle of the airport, hotel, café, mall, or wherever you happen to be working on the go.

So, what do you do? An ordinary person wouldn’t know the danger threatening them and their data at such a public charging station. But you’re no ordinary person–because you read this blog and know the dangers of cyberthreats.

But what is the danger of a public charging station?

Dangers of public charging stations

Convenient though it may be, charging your device in a public charging station can have devastating effects. Recently, the FBI and FCC advised that people stop using them. The reason is because of something called “juice jacking.”

What is “juice jacking”?

Simply put, “juice jacking” is when a USB port has been hijacked by a bad actor to install malware and monitoring software onto devices as they charge.

Once only theoretical but now a very real reality, with the advancement of technology, juice jacking has become cheaper and easier to implement. Smaller technologies allow for juice jackers to implement their nefarious ends in something as small as a USB pin.

How does juice jacking work?

The most common charging cables today are USB-C and lightning cables. These are dual-purpose, meaning they have pins for charging and pins for data.

Picturing a USB-C cable, the image to the left gives a rough idea that there are select pins/wires for transmitting data on a device (the white D- and green D+) and select pins/wires for charging a device (the red 5V).

(The black wire labeled “Gnd” is the ground wire.)

When you charge your device you only use the charging pins. But a compromised charging port, or a cable that someone has left behind, could use both charging pins and data pins without you knowing it. When bad actors use charging stations illicitly, they can install malware on your device that gives them access to your credentials and other data.

It’s like plugging your phone into someone else’s laptop, and giving them complete access to your device. Of course, when you plug into a charging station, you don’t know who can or will access your device and its data.

How to safeguard your devices

To avoid the risk, it is best not to use public charging stations. The best way to do this is to always either carry your own charger and cable and plug directly into a power outlet or carry your own portable battery charging bank.

You can easily order a portable battery charging bank online on places like Amazon or eBay–and save yourself the grief of getting juice jacked!

If you must use a public charging station, make sure to use a USB data blocker. This prevents data from being transferred and still allows the device to charge.

A data blocker securely links your device to the USB port of the public charging station, also saving you the grief of getting juice jacked!

We’re here to help!

Whenever you have to make decisions about how to travel and remain connected online as well as charged up, we are here to help! We have well over 50 plus cumulative years of experience, expertise, and knowledge to help you with your IT needs, decisions, and support. We provide service all over central and northern California to small and medium size businesses like yours. Call us today to find your place in our IT family of cybersecurity and support.

Sourced with permission from Your Tech Updates.