- Charging your phone at public USB points like those in airports may put you at risk of ‘juice jacking’
- Hackers can steal your data and passwords in public locations
- The Los Angeles District Attorney has warned about USB charger scams
We all know the feeling of panic when your mobile phone is about to die when you're out and about – and the feeling of relief when you find a convenient place to give it a power boost.
But security experts are urging people to think twice before plugging in. “Juice jacking” – or using public USB connections to introduce malware to smartphones and other devices – is an increasingly popular ploy by cyber criminals.
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Travellers are advised to stop charging their mobile phones and devices at public USB charging points like those found at airports and hotels because of the risk they present. The Los Angeles District Attorney recently issued a warning about fraud due to USB charger scams.
What is the World Economic Forum doing on cybersecurity?
The World Economic Forum’s Centre for Cybersecurity is leading the global response to address systemic cybersecurity challenges and improve digital trust. The centre is an independent and impartial platform committed to fostering international dialogues and collaboration on cybersecurity in the public and private sectors.
Since its launch, the centre has driven impact throughout the cybersecurity ecosystem:
- Training a new generation of cybersecurity experts
Salesforce, Fortinet and the Global Cyber Alliance, in partnership with the Forum, are delivering free and globally accessible training through the Cybersecurity Learning Hub.
- Building a global response to cybersecurity risks
The Forum, in collaboration with the University of Oxford – Oxford Martin School, Palo Alto Networks, Mastercard, KPMG, Europol, European Network and Information Security Agency, and the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, is identifying future global risks from next-generation technology.
- Improving cybersecurity in the aviation industry
Through the Cyber Resilience in the Aviation Industry initiative, the centre has been improving cyber resilience in aviation in collaboration with Deloitte and more than 50 other companies and international organizations.
- Making the global electricity ecosystem more cyber resilient
The centre and the Platform for Shaping the Future of Energy, Materials and Infrastructure have been bringing together leaders from more than 50 businesses, governments, civil society and academia to develop a clear and coherent cybersecurity vision for the electricity industry.
- The Council on the Connected World agreed on IoT security requirements for consumer-facing devices to protect them from cybers threats, calling on the world’s biggest manufacturers and vendors to take action for better IoT security.
- The Forum is also a signatory of the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, which aims to ensure global digital peace and security.
Contact us for more information on how to get involved.
“A free charge could end up draining your bank account," Deputy District Attorney Luke Sisak warns, adding the malware has the ability to lock devices and share passwords with hackers.
The vulnerability of USB chargers, combined with the rise in sophisticated malware targeting smartphones, is something security experts have warned against for some years. Back in 2016, the FBI issued a nationwide warning after one particular piece of hardware, KeySweeper, was used to steal keystrokes from nearby wireless keyboards.
USB cables left in charging points are particularly risky, drawing in people who may not be carrying their own cable.
A recent report from security software firm BlackBerry highlighted the risks our mobile phone opens us up to. Hackers take advantage of the fact we tend to be more trusting of these devices than we are of desktop computers. The report cites espionage campaigns that have targeted Pakistan’s military and government through fake apps.
Practice safe charging
There are a few steps you can take to keep your mobile phone or device charged and safe on the move – including investing in a USB condom. These small devices prevent cables from transferring data, and limit them to accessing the power source.
Other tips include making sure your device is fully charged before you go out, using standard plug power outlets rather than USB charging stations and using portable, personal chargers for emergencies.