Juice jacking in public settings such as coffee shops or airports is another potentially malicious digital privacy hack in our smartphone-addicted world where the search for a quick source of electric power is a constant.
Consumers are apparently at risk for juice jacking when they use a USB port charging station rather than an AC outlet to recharge their electronic devices and thus potentially expose their private data to hackers or leave their device vulnerable to malware infections. (RELATED: Read about more hacking at PrivacyWatch.news.)
According to Southern California Public Radio, “All it takes is one easily disguised charging kiosk, or even a power strip, for hackers to hijack your charge, and once you’re juice-jacked, there’s little that can be done to stop it; from installing malware onto your device, to sucking out personal messages, photos and information — all for the simple cost of offering sweet-relief and a fully-powered phone.”
Aries Security CEO Brian Markus, who first warned of juice jacking in communal USB ports about six years ago, told SCPR host Larry Mantle that consumers should be wary of plugging their smartphone or other portable device into a public USB port unless they determine the port is trustworthy. Instead, he recommends carrying an external battery pack made by a reputable manufacturer or only plugging your phone into AC power to recharge it.
Markus noted that some device manufacturers have taken steps to ward off the juice jacking problem, but there is much room for improvement.
In the meantime, consumers can also consider purchasing an inexpensive USB “condom” which disables the USB connector’s data pins, thereby creating a more secure, charge-only scenario.
Markus also alluded to the possibility that wireless charging could be a risky proposition. Apart from the juice jacking threat when you’re on the go, he also recommended using a VPN connection when logging into public WiFi in your travels.
Public places “have become regular safe havens whenever we’re desperate for that extra juice. But with the ubiquity of USB ports built into today’s phone chargers, this flow of ‘juice’ isn’t just power anymore – it’s data. Important data,” SCPR noted.
For the entire 14 minute “AirTalk” interview about hackers potentially stealing private data through juice jacking, click on the link below.
Separately on the digital privacy front, in late January, NewsTarget reported that a Chinese manufacturer installed backdoor spyware on Android phones that scooped up user text messages and sent them to China every three days.