Juice Jacking

Photo by ThisIsEngineering on Pexels.com

While traveling is not as prevalent as it was before COVID-19, we remain mobile. That means you can still run out of juice while away from the office.

Did you know that using a charging port, borrowing a cable, or relying on someone else’s external battery can put your smartphone, tablet, or laptop at risk?

The problem is malware, in which hackers take advantage of USB connections to hide and deliver secret data payloads that a user might think was only transferring electrical power. This is called “juice jacking.” Its visual counterpart, known as “video jacking,” occurs when a hacker records and mirrors the screen of a device that was plugged in for a charge.  

Protect Yourself from Data Theft

The FBI recommends:

DoDon’t
Use AC power outlets to charge devicesUse USB charging stations in public places
Buy only from trusted suppliersAvoid cheap deals and free giveaways
Bring your own car chargerDon’t borrow car chargers
Bring your own USB cablesDon’t use someone else’s
Bring your own AC or battery backupNo borrowing!
FBI TECH TUESDAY

Best Practices

  • Consider buying a charging-only cable, which prevents data from sending or receiving while charging. 
  • Discard any free USB cables, chargers, adapters, or similar accessories that you received as a promotional item. They are too risky, warns the FBI. Microcontrollers and electronic parts have become so small these days that criminals can hide mini-computers and malware inside a USB cable itself.  
  • As we move into the holiday season, you may be tempted to buy cheap electronic accessories as stocking stuffers or gifts. Please think twice. Consider the source and the manufacturer when making your purchases. Proprietary cables, chargers, adapters, docks, or battery backups often feel like they cost more than they should. (Pssst … Are you listening Apple?) But imagine what you’d spend trying to recover from data theft and fraud if a hacker gained access to your device? It isn’t worth it.

There’s another good reason to buy genuine electronic accessories from the manufacturer. They prolong the life of your device by charging it properly and completely.

As an example, the charging cables for your iPhone and iPad are not identical. The same is true of Samsung devices. I’m not saying that switching out proprietary chargers among your devices won’t work. I am saying that doing so is not optimal. And that’s within the same device manufacturer ….

Before we had to worry about juice jacking, I fell down the path of cheapie chargers. I learned quickly that I was wasting my money. If you don’t believe me, just Google “why cheap charging accessories don’t work,” to see pages of posts and warnings.

Better safe than sorry.

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.