Do not use public phone charging stations at airports, malls


Public USB Charging Stations: Are They Safe? What to Look Out For. Image from CIT Solutions

According to a recent report by The Hill, the FBI is warning people to not use public phone charging stations, which have become increasingly popular in places like airports and shopping malls. It is said hackers have found a way to introduce malware and other software onto devices through the public stations.

“Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centers,” the FBI’s Denver Twitter account said. “Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices. Carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead.”

The warnings were posted on the bureaus’s social media and websites and it is not alone in its warning to avoid the USB charging stations. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also warned against their use on its website, saying hackers are able to load malware onto the USB ports, giving them the ability to “maliciously” access devices. The agency calls it “juice jacking.”

“If your battery is running low, be aware that juicing up your electronic device at free USB port charging stations, such as those found near airport gates, in hotels and other travel-friendly locations, could have unfortunate consequences,” the FCC said. “You could become a victim of ‘juice jacking,’ a new cyber-theft tactic.”

The FCC warns that such malware can give criminals access to personal data and passwords, which they can use personally or sell to other actors. 

Instead of using the public USB charging stations, the FCC suggests people use a portable charger, use an AC power outlet or buy a charging-only cable, which does not allow the transfer of information while being used.


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