Last week, the FBI field office in Denver tweeted a reminder for people not to use the free USB charging stations frequently found in airports, hotels, and shopping centers to avoid what is known as “juice jacking.”
According to the tweet, “bad actors” know how to use the USB ports at charging stations to infect the connected devices with malware and monitoring software.
Instead of using the free USB charging stations provided, the FBI recommends that people carry a USB/AC adapter that allows them to charge their devices using an electrical outlet.
This isn’t the first time consumers have been warned about the risk of using complimentary USB charging stations.
In 2021, the Federal Communications Commission also warned about so-called “juice jacking.”
According to the FCC, cybersecurity experts say hackers can upload malware onto USB charging stations which will then infect any device that plugs into the USB port. Once the malware infects the charging device, the hackers can export personal data, including passwords, which the hackers can then use to access online accounts or sell to others.
To avoid being a victim of “juice jacking,” the FCC also advised carrying a USB/AC adapter to charge devices at an electric outlet instead of a free USB charging station. It also recommends carrying a portable charger or external battery when traveling.
The FCC also suggests that people carry a “charging-only” USB cable. This kind of cable prevents data from being sent or received by the device while it is charging.
According to the FBI, to prevent hacking of online accounts, users should create strong passwords unique to each account and change them regularly. The FBI warns that using the same password on several online accounts will make users more vulnerable if one account is hacked.
Additionally, the FBI recommends regularly updating your cell phone software and setting up multi-factor authentication.