Juice Jacking: Why You Should Avoid Public Chargers?

There might have been many instances when you are outdoors, probably at an airport or shopping mall and your mobile battery dies. We believe that the first thought that comes across your mind is to find the oasis- a charging kiosk and then plug in your mobile device to fill in the much needed juice.

Be it an Android, Windows, iOS or Blackberry device- all smart devices have a common port for power supply and data transfer. This one-cable-for-all technique opens door to many malware developers that lurk to gain control over your smartphones and they can do it with these public charging ports. As shocking as it may seem, it’s possible to hijack your device with USB charging ports found at public places like airports and shopping malls. It is called Juice Jacking. Due to some common traits in every cell phone design (both hardware and software), Juice Jacking is possible.

In this article, you’ll know why you should avoid using free public chargers. It also guides you on how to use them safely. Let’s dig in!

juice jacking
Image source: – digitalguardian.com

Juice Jacking

As described above, Juice Jacking is made possible due to some common properties found in every mobile device. The USB cable used in the charging process can invite unauthorized control onto your mobile device. It can also introduce malware into the device and hijack it.

The process is similar to connecting a mobile device to a PC. The attacker can invade your privacy and access contact information, private photos etc. by transmitting the malicious code into the device.

Reason To Worry!

Although malware-injecting and data extracting techniques through free chargers are not widespread, it does not mean that you should just let go off the fear. The danger is real and you should be alert while using public chargers. However, alerting users about the potential danger will make them extra attentive towards using public chargers. Also mobile device companies would take actions to repair the following glitch. It’s convenient to own a smartphone that has excellent user experience and connectivity but not at the stake of privacy invasion.

How To Avoid Juice Jacking

There are some serious steps you can take to avoid juice jacking. They are as follows: –

  • Keep Your Cell Phones Juiced Up: It is the best way to prevent Juice Jacking. Always try to charge your device when you’re at home or after office. Basically, you should charge your phones when you are not doing much things on it. Avoid bringing your phone’s battery level down to 3% every time.
  • Keep Personal Charger Handy: It does not take any effort to carry a mobile charger while you travel. So, it’s better to keep a personal charger handy whenever you travel. You will never find someone controlling your device through any data port.
  • Get a Power Bank: Another great substitute for immediate juice ups is carrying a power bank. You can also travel with extra batteries to meet the needs. Thus, you can satisfy your craving for charging your cell phones through kiosk.
  • Switch Off Your Mobile Device While Charging: When your mobile is switched off, it cannot be connected to other devices for any data transfer. Hence, in case, if a charging kiosk is the only way to juice up your phone, ensure that you switch off the mobile device before connecting it to the charging port.
  • Shun Using USB Ports For Charging: You can use the traditional electrical chargers while on the go instead of USB chargers. You can use USB cables, which does not have data wires in it (used only for charging purpose).
  • Also never unlock your device if you are charging at public charging stations.

The best defense against any sort of hacking is to be aware about the circumstances. As far as Juice jacking is concerned, keep your mobile devices juiced up, carry extra batteries, enable inbuilt security features, and most importantly, never ever plug your into those free USB charging stations again in your life. And if you do, follow precautionary measures. After all, “the aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain.”

Let us know what you think data security at public places. You are welcomed to share your experiences with us in the comments below.

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