Beware dangerous phone chargers

By Katie Ritchie

 

It has happened to all of us. You’re out and about and realize your phone is running low. It’s especially common when you’re traveling. Airport waiting areas often have clusters of nomads around outlets and power strips.

Unfortunately, a scam called “juice jacking” makes charging your phone or tablet risky. Juice jacking happens when USB ports or cables are infected with malware. When you plug into the infected cable or port, the scammers are in. There are 2 different types of threats. One is data theft, and it’s just what it sounds like. You plug into a corrupted port or cable and your passwords or other data can be stolen. The second is malware installation. When you connect to the port or cable, malware is installed onto your device. Even after you unplug, the malware will stay on the device until you remove it.

So far, juice jacking doesn’t seem to be a widespread practice. The Wall of Sheep hacking group proved it’s possible, so the public should be wary—especially since USB cables look harmless.

How can you protect yourself?

Take your own AC power outlet and car chargers with you when you’re traveling.

Don’t use cords found in public places.

Use AC power outlets, not USB charging stations, when your phone is low.

Invest in a portable battery backup and keep it charged in case of emergency.

Have an anti-malware app like Malwarebytes on your devices and run scans regularly.