Do you use phone charging stations in airports or cafes? It may be a good idea to think twice before doing that. On this matter, the FBI and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are warning against the use of public phone charging stations, which are increasingly popular in places like the ones we mentioned above and also shopping malls.
Hackers have found ways to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices through public USB ports at these stations, leading to the theft of personal data and passwords. The FBI’s Denver Twitter account stated that people should carry their own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead of relying on public charging stations. The FCC also warns against their use on its website and refers to the attack as “juice jacking.”
Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centers. Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices. Carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead. pic.twitter.com/9T62SYen9T
— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) April 6, 2023
The FBI and FCC suggest the use of portable chargers, AC power outlets, or charging-only cables, which do not allow the transfer of information while being used, to avoid risks of cyber theft. The entity also warns that criminals can use stolen personal data for personal purposes or sell it to others. According to The Hill, the FBI’s Denver office confirmed that the warning was not prompted by any specific incident but was issued as a public service announcement. The FBI’s warning on social media is in line with the guidance given on its website.
In conclusion, the warning against the use of public phone charging stations is to protect people from falling victim to cyber theft, which can occur when malware and monitoring software are introduced into devices through public USB ports. Carrying a portable charger (power bank) can be a great idea when there is no AC power outlets available.