Security Tips to Protect Your Mobile Phone Against Juice Jacking

Have you ever been running late to an important meeting or need to catch a flight only to discover your phone’s battery is dead? It’s easy to forget to charge devices. We’ve all been there, but it’s easy to find someplace to charge your phone. How often do you use public charging ports at airports, hotels, or convention centers to keep your cell phone alive? 

The next question is, how safe are those charging stations? Experts say not at all. That’s because of the phenomenon known as juice jacking. You’re taking a considerable risk with your mobile phone security at free charging stations because they might be doing more than just powering up your phones.

What is Juice Jacking?

Juice jacking, which takes advantage of public charging ports, is one of the many cyber-attack techniques hackers use to hijack your mobile devices.t. In juice jacking the ultimate goal is to transform charging stations into hacking devices that  leave malware in your device or simply transfer all of your critical data. You might not even know when your data is being transferred to a third party because your phone is being charged normally.

Those juice jacking attacks take advantage of your mobile phone connected to the same USB port linked to a cyber criminal’s data-syncing device. Once the juice jacking begins, it can steal your passwords, backup your data on a connected device, or leave a malicious application on your phone.

How Does It Work?

Juice jacking is so common that even the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned the public about the consequences of using free charging stations. This scheme is considered  a hardware-related Man in the Middle Attack (MitM) in which hackers set up a USB connection either directly or indirectly with one of their own devices and wait for you to connect your phone’s power supply to it.

In juice jacking, you don’t see the message that asks if you trust this device, so you don’t know that your device has been connected and is transferring data. This gives hackers a perfect chance to connect to your data without your knowledge and move it wherever they want.

How To Tell If Your Phone Has Been Juice Jacked?

When you plug your phone into a computer device or any other digital device via a USB connector, a message like “Do you Trust This Computer?” pops up. The first thing to notice is this message. If you connect your phone and this message appears, you can decline it, meaning the charging station is safe to use. However, if your charging starts and this message doesn’t pop on your screen, your device is at risk. Unplug your cell phone and let others know about it too. 

Unfortunately, if your phone has been juice jacked already, here are some of the things that you may notice: 

  • You may frequently see spam pop-ups on your screen 
  • The charge drains faster than normal
  • Unknown apps start to appear on your device
  • Personal accounts start acting weird
  • You see random messages and calls you don’t recall

How To Prevent Juice Jacking?

Here are some easy ways you can prevent your devices from juice jacking:

  • Check your battery before you leave a trusted place.

Trusted places include your home, workplace, or a loved one’s house. Before leaving, make sure you have enough battery in your mobile phone to last until you reach your destination. This way, you don’t fall victim to a juice-jacking attack while traveling.

  • Keep a spare charger or battery bank with you.

It’s easy to say you should check your battery percentage every time you plan to go somewhere, but let’s get real—people have busy lives and that doesn’t always happen.  . So, to prevent juice jacking, always keep a battery bank in your travel bag or purse. If you don’t have a spare battery, buy an extra charger for your phone and keep it with you.

  • Always plug into an AC wall outlet.

Typically, juice jacking attacks occur through charging stations and the USB ports attached to them. So, avoid all kinds of charging stations and ports in places like malls, airports, hotels, convention centers, and restaurants. Instead, plug your phone charger into an AC power outlet on a wall. This way, there’s no opportunity for a hacker to get access.

  • Lock your phone and use USB adapters.

If you are in desperate need to charge your phone at a charging station, there are still ways to prevent juice jacking. Simply lock your phone before you plug it into a USB port so it can’t pair with the hacker’s device. You can also turn off your device. Or, as a last resort get a USB adapter that only converts the USB into a charging device. There are different pins on a USB port for charging and data transfer. The adapter disables the transfer pins and lets the charging pins work only.

The best defense against juice jacking is understanding the risks associated with using public charging ports. For the  best protection, ensure  you have alternative power sources before leaving the house and don’t plug your phone anywhere you see a charging station. 

Visual Edge IT, Inc. (VEIT) specializes in managed IT services and security, cloud computing, and print/copy solutions for businesses across the U.S. including remote office locations. We offer a full line of office technology and services including 24/7 remote monitoring and administration of networks, service desk, and data backup and restore to improve business processes across a variety of industries. Plus, Visual Edge IT™ represents the industry’s leading manufacturers of office technology allowing businesses to get equipment, supplies and service from a single source. Backed by more than 20-years of technology service and a national network of expert engineers, VEIT is uniquely positioned to support business technology needs. The company is headquartered in North Canton, OH, USA. Request your no-obligation assessment today and get a free dark web analysis.