Individuals might be exposing themselves to 'juice jacking,' wherein scammers use the public device to penetrate and obtain important passwords.
This new warning issued by officials might change the way you look at public charging stations. What seemed to be a convenient option for the times when your phone had run out of battery, is now posing a serious threat to your wallet. In a recent PSA video from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Deputy District Attorney Luke Sisak warned people about using these stations which can be found in places like malls, airports, and hotels. Urging the public to steer clear of them, Sisak revealed how they pose a security threat for 'juice jacking.'
So, what exactly is juice jacking? Apparently, it is a USB charging scam used by criminals where they load damaging software onto cables or public stations, which is used by unaware individuals to plug their phones. Within mere minutes of charging or 'juicing' one's phone, the malware can cause the devices used by unaware owners to be 'jacked,' i.e. the owner of the device could be locked out or even have their private data such as passwords exposed to the scammer. "Be warned: a free charge could end up draining your bank account," added Sisak.
Thankfully, there is a way of preventing oneself from being scammed this way. Sisak recommends using an AC power outlet in place of the stations or investing in a portable charger that could be used during emergency situations. However, the best way to keep one's phone safe, according to him, is by carrying your own charger no matter where you go. Well, Sisak is not the only one who has urged people to stop using public charging stations. To emphasize the significance of their warnings, cybersecurity expert Jim Stickley and NBC News teamed up to demonstrate the danger they pose.
According to PEOPLE, a simulation of this homemade charging station installed with special hardware was set up along the Port of San Diego in Southern California. Next, they observed unsuspecting people stop by at the station to power their phones which then allowed Stickley to record and watch everything that they were doing on their screens with permission. With the help of this software experiment, Stickley demonstrated how he was able to watch an NBC News correspondent Vicky Nguyen enter the sensitive details of her credit card number while shopping on the website of Home Depot. He was also able to access a woman's personal Facebook messages using the same method.
"Depending on the vulnerability they exploit, they would have access to everything you would have access to on your phone," explained Stickley further noting how personal emails are amongst the most dangerous information that hackers can obtain and use the same to reset passwords. "Having access to your email has become very valuable, because, if you think about it, every account you have requires access to your email. Everybody’s login is your email, and that’s the problem," he added. Requesting people, most of whom believe that their phones cannot be hacked, to keep their device safe, Stickley said to NBC News, "Most people assume their computers can be hacked. Most people assume their phones can’t."