Juice jacking: FBI warns against using free charging stations at airports, hotels, shopping centers

ByDiane Wilson KTRK logo
Monday, April 10, 2023
FBI warns against using free charging stations in public spaces
According to the FBI, hackers have figured out how to use public USB ports to install malware and monitor software on your device

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Stop using public charging stations, that's the latest warning from the FBI.

These charging stations are found at airports, hotels and shopping centers.

While these charging stations may be convenient when your phone or electronic devices need a charge, they can be loaded with malware.

This scam is known as juice jacking. When your phone or iPad needs "juice" or a charge, the FBI said if you plug your device into a public charging station that is loaded with malware it may lock your electronic device, or send private information such as passwords, addresses, banking information or even a full backup of your phone to criminals.

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Once in the wrong hands, scammers can use that information to access online accounts or sell it.

Here are more Troubleshooter Takeaways to protect yourself from becoming a juice jacking victim:

  • Bring a portable charger or external battery.
  • Carry a charging-only cable, which prevents data from sending or receiving while charging, from a trusted supplier.
  • Never plug your device into cables already there, as authorities warn in some cases criminals left those cables to trick you.

Besides juice jacking, remember to never use public WiFi networks in airports and busy areas as that is another way that cyber criminals can target you.

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