Most people cannot go far without their phones being by their side. Smartphones have become a constant companion to most and represent an instant connection with the outside world.
In fact, 74 percent of Americans say they feel uneasy about leaving their phone at home when they go out, and 53 percent say that they have never gone longer than 24 hours without their smartphone.
This dependency on that tiny computer we can fit in our pocket is one of the reasons that people feel anxious when their battery is running low. Almost half of all smartphone users feel panic and anxiety when their battery goes below 20 percent. This is especially true when you are away from home or office and unsure if you will make it to the next charge.
At times like these, public charging stations, which are in places like airports, malls, hotels, and public squares, can seem like a beacon in the fog because they provide a place to charge up for free.
But that beacon should be seen as a red warning light for cybersecurity. Here’s why.
What is Juice Jacking?
The term juice jacking is used to describe a type of cyberattack that takes advantage of people charging their phones in public USB charging stations. A USB connection is not just used for charging, it is also a data connection.
Using malicious code, a scammer can infect a USB port so that it infects a device as soon as that device is connected to the port. So, you may feel relieved that you have a place to charge your phone’s battery, and never realize that a hacker has just gained access to everything on the device.
Juice jacking can lead to several costly consequences, including:
- A breach of sensitive business information
- Cloud account takeover
- Spyware being placed on the phone
- The phone being “bricked” (made unusable)
- Data privacy compliance violation
- Ransomware infection that spreads throughout a business network from an employee’s mobile device
Besides infecting existing public USB charging stations, scammers can also set up their own USB charging station lures. Then, all they need to do is sit and wait until someone connects their device to get a charge.
Why Do Businesses Need to Worry About Juice Jacking?
Most of the endpoints in a typical company are mobile devices. Mobile apps have made it easier to do work from tablets and smartphones. Many employees prefer these for things like checking and responding to email.
87 percent of businesses rely on the fact that their employees can access mobile business apps from their personal mobile devices. So, anything that threatens a smartphone that is used for any type of work (email, logging into Slack, cloud syncing, etc.) is a threat to the security of an organization’s network and data.
Tactics Your Team Should Use to Protect Their Devices
Charge Using the Electrical Outlet
It is a good rule of thumb to always use the electrical outlet in public spaces to charge devices, rather than a USB connection. This will not transmit any data and provides an electrical charge only.
One tip when traveling is to not unplug your phone from an outlet by pulling on the cord; instead, pull on the power adapter itself. This can keep you from accidentally leaving it behind in an outlet when in a hurry and being left with only USB as an option.
Use a Charge-Only USB Cable
There are times while traveling when there may not be a choice of using an electrical outlet to charge your phone. Maybe they are already taken up by security-savvy travelers, and only USB outlets are left.
It is a good idea to carry a charge-only USB cable for this type of situation. These cables do not allow the same data transmission to and from a device as the standard USB connector. So, you can plug into a USB port safely to get a charge without exposing your phone’s contents or risking a malware infection.
Get a Data Blocker USB Attachment
Like the charge-only USB cable, the data blocker will keep your phone from being accessed through a USB connection. This is a small device that sits between your USB plug and the port that you plug into – kind of like an extension of the tip. It is specifically designed to protect against juice jacking and can be found online for less than 10 dollars.
Carry a Portable Battery Charger
Portable battery charging packs are not that expensive (they run about 30-40 dollars). These typically provide about 2 full smartphone charges and keep your phone well away from any potentially dangerous charging stations.
In fact, when carrying a portable battery charger, you can sit wherever you want at an airport gate, and do not need to worry if all the charging ports are taken.
Learn How to Best Secure Your Team’s Mobile Devices
Mobile devices are like tiny computers, and they need to be secured properly. Twin State Technical Services can help your Quad Cities area business put cybersecurity solutions in place to keep employees’ devices and your network more secure.
Contact us today for a consultation. Call 563-441-1504 or contact us online.
References linked to:cyber security solutions, mobile app development