Posted on January 2, 2020 at 1:53 PM
The next time you charge your phone with a “free” airport charger, you should consider the cost implications first. According to Luke Sisak, L.A’s deputy district attorney, the “free” charge could drain your bank account.
There is a recent Scam alert that shows some public phone chargers can be vulnerable to hackers. The hacking system, known as “juice jacking,” has been detected in train stations, airports, and other public places with free-charging ports and devices.
Reports have revealed that the hackers are currently infiltrating these free phone charging services with malware. When the phone owners innocently plug their phones for a few power boost, the phones get infected with a virus, according to the New York Post.
U.S. security authorities have advised travelers to be conscious of the security situations around them. They should be careful during this holiday season. According to the security authorities, criminals are now loading malware onto tablets or charging stations they use, leaving the next user at their mercies. Once the user plugs in their device, it becomes infected with malware.
How hackers are planting the malware
A cybersecurity expert, Steve Beaty, informed reporters about the activities of the hackers. He said the hackers are taking advantage of people’s need to charge their phones with a public utility. It is similar to the scenario where hackers install card skimmers on ATMs and petrol pumps.
Skimming devices carry out similar activities. The scammers usually install these devices that are capable of reading all your punching things. When the victim punches details about their account information, the hackers will take it up from there. These skimming devices also can read through your magnetic stripe.
Malware is capable of locking users’ devices or sending out passwords. It can also send addresses or complete backup of the user’s phone to the attacker within a matter of minutes.
Skimming method has been around for a while
The warning by U.S. authorities is not the first time. They have been warning about this type of malware since 2011.
Authorities have advised users on how to avoid being victims of these hackers. They said users should have a portable charger or use a power outlet on their charger. They should also consider installing apps such as SyncStop to prevent potential infiltration by the malware.
Malware spreading across all sectors
With the constant threat of malware in the cyber world, one may wonder whether there is an industry that is immune to hackers. Even hospitals and government systems are constantly being used or targeted for these hacking activities. Some malware can infect computers in seconds.
According to the authorities, users and travelers should be very cautious about how they connect their devices in public. Even places that may ordinarily be difficult to hack have been infiltrated in the past. So, cautiousness is a better personal protective measure to take against hackers, they concluded.
Beware of free offers
Luke Sisak posted an Instagram video on November 9, 2019, describing how scammers can infiltrate a public phone charging unit. He also warned users to be very cautious and encourage them to spread the news for massive awareness. He said USB ports and public charging stations could save your phone from the embarrassment of switching off. But they could cause more trouble when they become compromised.
There is a recent report where thousands of devices were infected by android malware known as a “joker bug.” The joker bug automatically signed the users up for a subscription service they didn’t sign up for.
Another cyber-security expert, Liviu Arsene, targets those who want to boost the battery life of their device before they reach their traveling destination. He warned that even USB cables used as free giveaways could be infected. According to him, users should consider their options carefully and weigh the risk. Whatever they need to do with their device, they should look at the security aspect and consider taking portable chargers with them when traveling.