We’ve all been there. You’re in the airport and need to quickly charge your phone before you jump on your plane. Fortunately, airports now have convenient charging stations where you can use your USB to charge your phone. But, that charging station at the airport isn’t as innocent as you think. In fact, it could be used to steal the data from your mobile phone.
Juice-jacking is when hackers steal your phone’s data while it’s being charged. It does it through software embedded in a kiosk offering to quickly charge your phone or through a cord attached to a charging station. It can do this through the USB charger plugged directly into the socket. USBs can transmit data, as opposed to two-pronged plugs which transmit power only. The mechanism is akin to what a “skimmer” does when it steals your debit or credit card info, only juice-jacking can potentially steal all of the data on your cell phone – passwords, account info, contacts, emails, etc.
While this type of hacking isn’t widespread yet, it has the potential to be. But there are ways to protect yourself against this type of hack. Here are five easy ways to avoid being the victim of juice-jacking:
- Don’t plug your phone directly into a USB charging jack. Use a 2-prong electrical attachment to keep your information safe.
- Don’t use a provided cord or someone else’s 2-prong attachment: it may have software embedded in the cord or the electrical attachment to steal your info.
- Use a “sync stop” device to block attackers from getting into your phone.
- When charging your phone, keep it locked or turn it off. For most phones, your info can’t be accessed when locked or powered off.
- Don’t trust anyone: carry your own personal power bank for charging your mobile device.
The next time your phone runs low on battery in the airport, hotel, or coffee shop, make sure you’re prepared so you can give your phone the power it needs without rendering you powerless.