Train stations, airports and shopping centers provide USB sockets to charge your devices. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be such a good idea to use it…
On trains, stations, planes, airports, cafes or shopping centers, you often find USB sockets that allow you to charge your electronic devices. They can come in handy when you have to wait a long time for your train or your phone is about to die.
Unfortunately, 60 Million Consumers has just reported that this gesture, which may seem harmless, is in fact at risk, particularly for your personal data. “Avoid using free charging stations at airports, hotels or shopping malls. Hackers are using public USB ports to introduce malware and surveillance software onto devices,” had already alerted the American Federal Bureau of Investigation about X last April.
This hacking technique even has a name: “juice jacking”. The criminals actually manage to tinker with public USB sockets to integrate their own components and thus recover data from devices connected to the terminal. Once recovered, they will be exploited or resold online. This maneuver can make it possible to install spyware without your knowledge capable, for example, of recording your conversations or even controlling your device remotely. Hackers can also infiltrate viruses or adware that flood your screen.
All devices can be affected, whether they are Android or IOS. For Caleb Barow, vice president of X-Force Threat Intelligence at IBM Security, interviewed by Forbes, “plugging into a public USB port is like finding a toothbrush on the side of the road and deciding to put it in his mouth. You have no idea where that thing got to.”
How to protect yourself from it? The best solution is to look for an electrical outlet, rather than a USB port, or to equip yourself with a data blocker called a “USB condom”. The latter is placed between the device and the terminal and acts as a filter so that only the electricity can circulate. You can buy them from specialist IT stores. If you often take the train or plane, this can be very convenient.
Another alternative is to invest in an external battery. Without risk, it allows you to recharge your phone anywhere and at any time. Most of these batteries are easily transportable.
If you do not have any of these alternatives and you absolutely must charge your device, check that you do not receive malicious messages when connecting which could ask you to install or update software. If so, unplug it immediately. Otherwise, take care to lock it while charging.
Finally, if after a risky recharge your battery drains more quickly, you notice a slowdown in your applications, your device overheats or your settings have been modified, it is probably too late…