5 Important Facts to Know About Juice Jacking to Protect Your Data

Juice jacking is a serious threat to people going about their normal business and simply trying to charge their devices in any public space. You would never even think it was something that could happen unless you’re looking out for it. Here are some important things you need to know about juice jacking and how it can cause people to damage your devices and steal your personal information.

Juice Jacking Is Subtle

You’re going about your day normally, perhaps taking a train or bus, or even plugging in at a mall. You take out your USB cord and plug it into the USB jack in the public location. Your goal is simply to charge up your device, but the criminals who have altered the charging station have other ideas. Using the USB connection you just established, they download the contents of your device without you ever knowing. Or, they might upload a virus or malware to your phone, tablet or even laptop to cause damage or steal even more data.

The problem is that USB cords can both charge phones and transfer data. This can happen to anyone and frequently has.

Public Charging Stations Can Threaten Both You and Your Business

It’s worth remembering that any device can be subverted if they are connected to a USB port that’s been tampered with and designed to penetrate your privacy. This includes if you need to charge your business phone while you’re on a trip and charging at the airport to make important phone calls, for example.

The hack could get all of your business contacts. It could steal sensitive data. Criminals could gain access to critical business data that could threaten not just your livelihood, but your liability in court if the thieves manage to get data that’s covered under an NDA that you signed. Even beyond being sued, it’s not going to look too good for your business.

Beyond that, you are also in danger of losing personal information. This could include credit card numbers, social security numbers, the addresses of you and your family, or anything else that you have on your phone. It could include all of your passwords which could then be used by a hacker to infiltrate your social media, your banks, and just about any other part of your electronic life.

In other words, they could do an enormous amount of damage.

Juice Jacking Can Be Simple for a Hacker to Use on You

Many devices will automatically swap files with any USB port that they are plugged into generally. Hackers can upload files onto a public charging station that will automatically execute when someone makes that connection in order to charge their device. This could initiate an automatic transfer of files, such as all of the contacts on your phone, for example.

You have to actually go into your settings to change the automatic transfer of files that occurs when you connect to a station. Otherwise, data transfer mode just happens. This transfer of files can also be used to install malware on your device. The malware would stay there and cause havoc until you remove it. The malware could record everything you do on your phone and send this information to a hacker’s email. This could include videos you record, pictures you take, passwords you enter, and everything else. The malware could be used to infiltrate everything.

There Are Two Major Types of Juice Hacking

The two major types of juice hacking including data theft and malware installation, although there are further types that fit within these two major ones.

Data theft

The first major type of juice hacking is simple data theft. You plug your USB cable from your device to the port on the charging station, and then a file transfer is immediately initiated. This transfer can take some time, however, which is why cutting it off short can limit the potential risk. Just about any information can be stolen this way, though it’s often more difficult to do than malware installation since the hacker would often have to come back to the station to retrieve the data.

Malware

The second type of threat is that the data transfer mode on the phone could be used to automatically plant malicious software on your mobile device. The type of malware that could be installed here is certainly diverse. For example, it could plant something that could track information like GPS data. In other words, they could follow you around digitally and see everywhere you go. They could keep track of every purchase you make, take logs of all of your calls, and record many other things besides.

They could install adware to make ads pop up on your phone constantly in order to make money that way. They could install crypto miners to use your phone’s processing power to make money through Bitcoin or other crypto coins. This could damage your device by making it hot, but even if it doesn’t, it would steal your processing power and slow your phone down.

You Can Avoid Juice Jacking Attacks Entirely

The best way to avoid these kinds of attacks is just to not use public charging stations at all. Instead, bring a charger with you that you can plug directly into the wall. Most places that have charging stations will have electric outlets as well, and you can’t use any kind of hacking through an electrical socket, generally speaking, since it’s not using a USB plug on the other side so there’s no transfer.

You could also purchase a battery recharger or power bank yourself that you can plug into if you are getting low on battery charge. Many portable rechargers are highly inexpensive. Another approach is to use something called a “USB condom” which makes it impossible for data to transfer to occur when you’re connected to a charging station.

Additionally, you could also check your USB preference settings on your device to make sure the data transfer option is off, but this isn’t always enough. Always avoid plugging into any unidentified USB source.

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