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Hackers Could Be Targeting Your Mobile Devices Through Public USB Outlets, US Officials Warn

Hackers Could Be Targeting Your Mobile Devices Through Public USB Outlets, US Officials Warn

It's called 'juice jacking' and it's deadly serious

Tom Wood

Tom Wood

Hey, here's another thing to keep you worrying when you're out and about - have you ever heard of juice jacking? Well, according to officials in the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, you should start to take care where you plug your phone in, as it could lead to hackers gaining access to your personal information.

Basically, if you decide to charge your phone in a public place, be that an airport, a hotel, or anywhere at all, you should be aware that the port you've plugged it into could secretly transmit malware onto your phone.


Hackers use their own devices - laptops or phones - to send malware programs into the hardware of the public charging point and get it onto your phone via the USB port.

That means that instead of being the one-way connection you might imagine it to be, you could be unwittingly passing your details onto someone else in order to get an extra couple of bars charge.


If they don't get you that way, there's also a way in which they can hack into the end of the USB cable itself, then leaving it there in the machine in the hope you'll use the dodgy one instead of rummaging about for your own.

Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey warns that hackers have been using data stolen in this sort of fashion to export data from people's phones, grab their passwords or keep people from using their own mobile devices by locking them out.

That's because USB ports work both ways, remember?


So, while in public, the advice is to use the wall plug and get AC power charge rather than using a USB port that could be compromised. After all, the hackers have yet to figure out a way to hack a wall plug.

If you can't do that, you're better off buying one of those portable charger packs and using that instead. It's better to be safe rather than sorry, isn't it?

If you only use that in case of emergencies, you should never feel the need to use a public USB outlet in order to charge your devices

The guidance from the LADA reads: "Travelers should avoid using public USB power charging stations in airports, hotels and other locations because they may contain dangerous malware.

"In the USB Charger Scam, often called 'juice jacking', criminals load malware onto charging stations or cables they leave plugged in at the stations so they may infect the phones and other electronic devices of unsuspecting users.

"The malware may lock the device or export data and passwords directly to the scammer."

Now you know, there's no excuse for getting caught out.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Interesting, Technology, Weird