USB charging stations are a common sight in shopping centers, airports, hotels, fast-food restaurants, and even on public transport. Criminals tamper with the charging stations or cables in public areas and install malicious software that can invade, damage, steal or delete data from your phone. your phone. The software can invade, damage, or even disable your phone. It can also steal or delete data from your phone and possibly spy on your usage activity, to the extent of transmitting your personal information such as account numbers, usernames, passwords, photos, and emails to the perpetrator. Even a 60-second power-up can be enough to compromise your phone’s data. This is because USB cables allow the transmission of both power and data streams simultaneously. Victims can be left vulnerable to identity theft, financial fraud, and significant stress.
How can I tell if I’ve been juice jacked?
- A sudden surge in battery consumption or rapid loss of charge, indicating a malicious app may be running in the background.
- The device operating slower than usual, or restarting without notice.
- Apps taking a long time to load or frequently crashing.
- Excessive heating.
- Changes to device settings that you did not make.
- Increased or abnormal data usage.
How do I protect myself?
The tampering of USB charging stations or USB cables is almost impossible to identify. But there are some simple ways to guard against juice jacking:
- Avoid USB power charging stations.
- Use AC power outlets rather than USB ports.
- Use a portable battery power bank (your own, not a borrowed one!).
- Carry your own charging cable and adaptor.
- Use a data-blocker device. These devices physically prevent data transfer and only allow power to go through while charging.
- Use power-only USB cables such as PortaPow, which don’t pass any data.
- If you must use a charging station, keep your phone locked while doing so. USB ports typically don’t sync data from a phone that is locked. Most mobile phones will ask your permission to give the USB port access to your phone’s data when you plug in. If you’re using an unknown or untrustworthy port, make sure you decline.
What to do if you have been "juice jacked"
- Monitor your device for unusual activity.
- Delete suspicious apps you don’t recall installing.
- Restore your device to its factory settings.
- Install anti-virus software.
- Keep your mobile device’s system software up to date. Developers continually release patches against common types of malware.