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The FBI warns the public that they may be downloading Malware when charging their mobile devices at Airports, Hotels and Shopping Malls

1 cover Public charging stations report

A new report today claims that the FBI has sent out a warning to consumers about “juice jacking," wherein bad actors use public chargers to infect phones and devices with malware. They're advising the pubic to stick to their own USB cables and charging plugs to avoid juice jacking.

The FBI recently warned consumers against using free public charging stations, saying crooks have managed to hijack public chargers that can infect devices with malware, or software that can give hackers access to your phone, tablet or computer.

“Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centers,” a tweet from the FBI’s Denver field office said. “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.” The FBI's guideline for charging safely could be viewed here.

While the FBI is getting this information out to the entire U.S., the news about "Juice Jacking" surfaced at least a year ago. Quantum Technologies posted a report on this very topic titled "Think Those Public Phone Charging Stations Are Safe? Think Again!"

Their report provided greater clarity. USB is used to transmit data, so when you plug into one of these public USB charging stations, a hacker can gain a direct data access port to your device. They will use this to do things like:

  • Copy all the data from your phone
  • Clone your SIM card
  • Infect your device with spyware or other malware
  • Access apps on your devices (like a mobile wallet or banking app)


Interesting Tip: Purchase a Charge-Only USB Cable

According to the report, standard USB cables that come with mobile devices will allow both a charge and a data connection. However, you can purchase charge-only USB cables that will block a data connection.

These are pretty inexpensive and they’re smart to carry with you when traveling away from home. This allows you to still take advantage of a public charging station when you need to without worrying about opening a data connection to your device that could leave you at risk.

For more information on this, read the full Quantum Technologies report.

10.0F3 - Patently Extra News


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