Juice jacking is when a public USB charging port has been compromised to damage or introduce malicious software and malware to your portable device such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
Potential dangers from juice jacking:
- Harvesting of your personal information for use in fraud and identity theft
- Installation of malware on your device
- Theft of sensitive documents from a work device
- Potential access to your account and password information
How does juice jacking work?
Smartphones and most tablets transfer both power and data via the USB port. When you buy a standard charger with your device that isn't intended to transfer data, it is usually only wired to provide power. The wires used to transfer data don't exist.
A bad actor can replace the ports on public chargers, including ones that also transfer data. The victim plugs their phone into what appears to be a legitimate public charging station and doesn't see anything unusual, however, in the background, the device is being compromised.
What are the best ways to protect yourself?
- If you must charge your phone, use a wall outlet and AC adapter that you own if possible.
- Use wireless charging, many wireless chargers can plug into a USB port and will only transfer power.
- You can use a power bank or portable battery to charge your device when traveling.
- You can use a USB pass-through device. These devices plug into the public USB port and only allow power to pass through to the device, you plug your device into the other side of the pass-through. Here is an example of one available on Amazon.