Wednesday, April 24

Juice Jacking: Why We Should Think Twice Before Using Public USB Charging Ports

Edited by Akhil Thomas

Public USB charging ports are now available at every location, like airports, hotels, cafes, and bus stands. Most smartphone users depend on these charging ports when their devices run out of battery while traveling. However, it should be noted that the technology is advancing day by day, and scammers are even exploiting public USB charging ports to hack smartphones and other devices.

The Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In) has recently issued a warning for smartphone users. This warning is aimed at raising awareness about the security risks posed by the cyberattack known as “juice jacking.” In an X post on March 27, CERT-In warned that cyber criminals may use USB charging portals installed at public locations for “malicious activities.” CERT-In, which is operating under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, also said that charging electronic devices at such infected public charging ports may make a smartphone user a victim of a juice-jacking cyber attack.

Juice jacking is a form of cyberattack in which devices are compromised when plugged into an infected USB charging port. This involves either installing malware or copying sensitive data from a smart phone or any other device. Sensitive data includes users’ passwords, credit card information, addresses, and other information.

It is to be noted that even if you are using an Android device or an iPhone, the cable used to charge the phone is also used to transfer the data. The term “juice jacking” was first coined by investigative journalist Brian Krebs in 2011.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has reportedly issued a warning about “juice jacking” recently. “Charging your phone using public ports or conducting financial transactions over public Wi-Fi networks can expose your data to potential threats,” RBI said, as quoted by The Hindu BusinessLine.

How To Protect Your Device From Juice Jacking

> Always try carrying your own power bank or power cable.
> Avoid using public charging stations whenever possible.
> Disable data transfer capabilities (USB mode) while charging.
> Try to keep smartphone and mobile applications updated.