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Beware of Juice Jacking at Public Charging Stations

Have you ever heard of Juice Jacking?

Public USB Charging Station | Juice Jacking | Huff Insurance | Pasadena MDJuice jacking is a type of cyber attack that takes place when a user connects their device, such as a smartphone or laptop, to an unsecured charging station. The charging station is usually located in public places such as airports or coffee shops.  It can be equipped with malicious software that can allow the hacker to gain access to personal information stored on the device. In some cases, the hacker can also install malware onto the device without the user’s knowledge.

The television show CSI:Cyber aired an episode with juice jacking way back in 2015.  I remember watching the episode and not thinking much of it because there was nothing in the news about this type of cyber hacking.  Well, it is a reality that we all have to be aware of when we are plugging our USB devices into public charging stations.

Why public charging stations?

A public charging station is a welcome convenience when your device’s battery is running low. Airports, rest stops, hotels and malls usually have places to charge your devices, but cybercriminals know about these amenities, too.

The danger lies in the fact that users often assume public charging stations are safe and do not take additional security measures to protect their devices.

The FBI and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have warned the public of scams at public charging stations. Criminals can load malware onto public USB charging stations. They can also install skimming devices (similar to card reader scams) that read your device after it’s plugged into the USB port. This is known as juice jacking.

Corrupted USB ports can lock your device, export personal data or install keystroke monitoring software. Keystroke monitoring software records every key you depress on your device, allowing criminals to see your confidential information, like banking logins.

In addition to compromising personal data, juice jacking can also lead to ransomware attacks. Ransomware is when a hacker gains access to a user’s files and data and locks them out until they pay a fee for it. This means that even if you disconnect your device from the public charger quickly, you could still be vulnerable to attack due to the malicious software installed on your device.

How to protect your device from juice jacking

Here are some tips to guard against device juice jacking:

  • Carry a portable charger or power bank.
  • Use a wall outlet to charge your device. Bring your AC chargers, adapters, car chargers and USB data cables.
  • Carry a charge-only cable for use at public stations. These cables support charging, but not data transfers.
  • Bring a USB data blocker. These adapters block unauthorized transfers between your device and the charging port.
  • Choose the lowest privileges when your device asks you to select trust options. For example, choose “charge only” instead of “share data” or “trust this computer” when prompted.
  • Install antivirus software on your devices and update it regularly.

One charging kiosk provider also suggests looking for:

  • Steel lockers or other containments to prevent unauthorized access to cables
  • Security camera monitoring
  • Stations in well-lit, populated areas
  • Stations that use charge-only cable systems
  • Check the charging station for any signs of tampering

According to an FCC post, juice jacking is theoretically possible, but they’re unaware of confirmed instances. Even so, staying vigilant about data security in a world of fast-paced tech advances is your best route for protection. Stay cybersafe out there!

What about electric car charging stations?

Somethng to ponder is, will juice jacking become a problem with the public charging stations for electric cars?  These days, cars are just computers on wheels and are a target for cyber criminals.

Is Cyber Insurance Important?

Cyber insurance is an important tool for protecting yourself from cyberattacks, including those that occur through juice jacking. Cyber insurance typically provides coverage for the costs associated with responding to a data breach or other cyber incident, as well as any associated losses.

In addition to covering financial losses, cyber insurance could also provide assistance with the technical aspects of responding to a cyber attack. This might include access to forensic experts who can help investigate the source of the attack and determine how best to protect against similar incidents in the future.

As juice jacking attacks are becoming more common, it is important for individuals and businesses alike to make sure they have adequate protection in place. Personal cyber insurance policies typically cover both individuals and their families, making them an affordable way for people to ensure they have some degree of protection from these types of attacks.

Businesses should also consider investing in a comprehensive cyber insurance policy that covers all potential areas of risk as well as access to expert advice and guidance on how best to respond in the event of an attack.

Each personal and business cyber policy is different.  So make sure you read the coverage and exclusions for your specific policy.

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