We’ve written in the past to be aware of these when you’re looking for a way to power up your phone at an airport. Looks like we should all be wary about something else too – and this one is potentially much more malicious.
Media outlets have written about them in the past, but Forbes recently reminded everyone that the use of public USB ports could put unsuspecting users at risk of cybertheft.
Called “juice jacking,” it happens when cyber-criminals secretly modify USB ports, which allows them to install malware onto your phone/tablet and/or to download data from it and/or, in worse cases, take control of your device.
“Plugging into a public USB port is kind of like finding a toothbrush on the side of the road and deciding to stick it in your mouth. You have no idea where that thing has been,” Caleb Barlow, Vice President of X-Force Threat Intelligence at IBM Security, said to Forbes. “And remember that that USB port can pass data.”
The problem tends to happen on Android devices more than others, but there are also claims of Juice Jacking on Apple devices, mainly on earlier models with older iOS installed (think like Great Aunt Frannie, who doesn’t update her phone), as well (the most famous of these is/was called Wire Lurker).
To avoid the potential problem, you can bring your own charger or portable battery. Or just use a regular plug instead of a USB input (if you don’t want to carry a cord with you, this might be a viable option).
Or if you want to go a little more high tech, there are items such as SyncStop (previously called USB Condom. I like that name better, but I’m admittedly a 12y/o boy in a middle-age woman’s body), which blocks the data pins on any USB cable and allowing only power to flow through.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary