Despite the popularity of public phone and device charging stations at airports, festivals, hotels, and malls, the FBI is warning people to stop using them to avoid becoming victims of the latest scam: juice jacking.
According to the FBI, "bad actors" have figured out how to hijack public USB ports so that they install malware or malicious programs on your phone, tablet, or anything you plug into the compromised USB port. That unwanted code is usually programmed by the scammer to give them access to your device and everything on it.
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
While you certainly don't want just anyone to be able to track your location or access videos of your kids, the most lucrative information are the usernames and passwords you use to log in to things like your bank account, insurance app, and email, according to the FCC. With those, the scammer can easily commit fraud and assume your identity.
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Luckily, juice jacking is easy to avoid: just don't use publicly accessible USB ports. They may be sorely tempting when you're traveling or out of battery power at a music festival, but like card skimmers at gas stations and ATMs, the risk is too great. Instead, just bring your own charging equipment, like a portable power bank or USB cable and power plug. That way, you'll only have to plug it into an electrical outlet, not a USB port.