Hackers can use public USB chargers to steal personal data. Here’s what you need to know about ‘juice jacking’

usb charger

(Lucian Alexe, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Charlotte Edmond, Formative Content,


  • Charging your phone at public USB points like those in airports may put you at risk of ‘juice jacking’
  • Hackers can steal your data and passwords in public locations
  • The Los Angeles District Attorney has warned about USB charger scams

We all know the feeling of panic when your mobile phone is about to die when you’re out and about – and the feeling of relief when you find a convenient place to give it a power boost.

But security experts are urging people to think twice before plugging in. “Juice jacking” – or using public USB connections to introduce malware to smartphones and other devices – is an increasingly popular ploy by cyber criminals.

 

Travellers are advised to stop charging their mobile phones and devices at public USB charging points like those found at airports and hotels because of the risk they present. The Los Angeles District Attorney recently issued a warning about fraud due to USB charger scams.

What is the World Economic Forum doing on cybersecurity

The World Economic Forum Platform for Shaping the Future of Cybersecurity and Digital Trust aims to spearhead global cooperation and collective responses to growing cyber challenges, ultimately to harness and safeguard the full benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The platform seeks to deliver impact through facilitating the creation of security-by-design and security-by-default solutions across industry sectors, developing policy frameworks where needed; encouraging broader cooperative arrangements and shaping global governance; building communities to successfully tackle cyber challenges across the public and private sectors; and impacting agenda setting, to elevate some of the most pressing issues.

Platform activities focus on three main challenges:

Strengthening Global Cooperation for Digital Trust and Security – to increase global cooperation between the public and private sectors in addressing key challenges to security and trust posed by a digital landscape currently lacking effective cooperation at legal and policy levels, effective market incentives, and cooperation between stakeholders at the operational level across the ecosystem.Securing Future Digital Networks and Technology – to identify cybersecurity challenges and opportunities posed by new technologies and accelerate solutions and incentives to ensure digital trust in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.Building Skills and Capabilities for the Digital Future – to coordinate and promote initiatives to address the global deficit in professional skills, effective leadership and adequate capabilities in the cyber domain.

The platform is working on a number of ongoing activities to meet these challenges. Current initiatives include our successful work with a range of public- and private-sector partners to develop a clear and coherent cybersecurity vision for the electricity industry in the form of Board Principles for managing cyber risk in the electricity ecosystem and a complete framework, created in collaboration with the Forum’s investment community, enabling investors to assess the security preparedness of target companies, contributing to raising internal cybersecurity awareness.

For more information, please contact info@c4c-weforum.org.

“A free charge could end up draining your bank account,” Deputy District Attorney Luke Sisak warns, adding the malware has the ability to lock devices and share passwords with hackers.

Cyber sneaks

The vulnerability of USB chargers, combined with the rise in sophisticated malware targeting smartphones, is something security experts have warned against for some years. Back in 2016, the FBI issued a nationwide warning after one particular piece of hardware, KeySweeper, was used to steal keystrokes from nearby wireless keyboards.

USB cables left in charging points are particularly risky, drawing in people who may not be carrying their own cable.

Preventing malware and ransomware is the biggest cyber security challenge, followed by identifying vulnerabilities.
Image: Statista

A recent report from security software firm BlackBerry highlighted the risks our mobile phone opens us up to. Hackers take advantage of the fact we tend to be more trusting of these devices than we are of desktop computers. The report cites espionage campaigns that have targeted Pakistan’s military and government through fake apps.

Have you been the victim of a malware infection on your mobile device.
Image: Statista

Practice safe charging

There are a few steps you can take to keep your mobile phone or device charged and safe on the move – including investing in a USB condom. These small devices prevent cables from transferring data, and limit them to accessing the power source.

Other tips include making sure your device is fully charged before you go out, using standard plug power outlets rather than USB charging stations and using portable, personal chargers for emergencies.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

MEPs demand an end to migrant deaths across the Mediterranean Sea

Air pollution: How to end the deaths of 7 million people per year

This project is using AI and drones to track and protect great white sharks

Main results of EU-Japan summit: Tokyo, 17/07/2018

We don’t know how autonomous vehicles will depreciate – and that’s a problem

ACP-EU Post-Cotonou: A Joint Parliamentary Assembly is non-negotiable

How Africa’s women can drive the 4IR forward

Employment: Commission proposes €1.6 million from Globalisation Adjustment Fund to help 400 workers made redundant in Carrefour Belgique

Achieving targets on energy helps meet other Global Goals, UN forum told

We can build an inclusive workplace, and it starts with empathy

Macron plans for Europe, Brexit and banks but vague on France

How cities are failing to be inclusive – and what they can do about it

‘Never give up’: UN chief urges all who serve, marking UN Day

The banks first to benefit from the new euro trillion ECB plans to print

GSMA Mobile 360 – Africa on 16-18 July 2019, in association with The European Sting

More funds needed to counter ‘persistent and multi-faceted humanitarian problems’ in Ethiopia

The EU wants to create 10 million smart lampposts

School closures triple in Central and Western Africa as education comes under fire

COP22 addresses a strong global pledge to effectively implement the Paris Agreement

Common charger: a long-awaited proposal requested by Parliament

UK must end ‘unlawful’ administration of Chagos Archipelago ‘as rapidly as possible,’ top UN court rules

This tiny new grain could save the planet

The challenge of palliative care in universal health coverage

UN chief saddened at news of death of former US President George H.W. Bush

Financial system risk is elevated and global standards are essential in managing cross-border infrastructure investment

This Dutch floating village could help tackle city-density and sea-level challenges

New rules make household appliances more sustainable

UN ‘regrets’ new US position on legality of Israeli settlements

Maros Sefcovic Canete European Commission Energy

Better late than never? Commission runs now to fight energy dependency on Russia with the sustainable energy security package

Stuck at sea: How to save the world’s seafarers and the supply systems they support

State aid: Commission approves Luxembourg guarantee measure to further support economy in coronavirus outbreak

FROM THE FIELD: Conversations about Conservation

Reform of road use charges to spur cleaner transport and ensure fairness

General Assembly officially adopts roadmap for migrants to improve safety, ease suffering

Mozambique cyclones a ‘wake-up call’ to boost resistance: UN weather agency

Global leaders and companies pledge to reduce the gender pay gap by 2030

What you need to know about the Sustainable Development Impact Summit

Support ‘winds of change’ in DR Congo to consolidate positive developments, urges UN mission chief

Coldplay stop touring to save the world: is pop music going sustainable?

EU finally agreed to cut roaming charges in 2017 but criticism is always there

Europe should make voice ‘more heard’ in today’s ‘dangerous world,’ says UN chief

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: There is a new draft agreement on the negotiating table

Turkey caught in a vicious Syrian circle bringing terror and war at home

How our Europe will regain its strength: op-ed by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

The European Sting @ European Business Summit 2014 – the preview

Women in Leadership, a Cognitive and Psychological Approach

How start-ups will lead India through the Fourth Industrial Revolution

NextGenerationEU: European Commission endorses Romania’s €29.2 billion recovery and resilience plan

The new era of Matriarchy?

COP21 Breaking News: Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptation Announced

Blockchain is becoming key for global trade – but is that a gift for hackers?

Powering through the pandemic

Bigotry ‘moving at lightning speed’ Guterres warns, as UN marks the Holocaust

Who the US and China have trade disputes with

Is co-living an answer to the affordable housing crisis?

Mine ban agreement ‘has saved countless lives’, but ‘accelerated efforts’ needed to end scourge for good: Guterres

Wars have rules: 5 things the UN humanitarian chief wants countries to tackle so human suffering in conflict can be minimized

State aid: Commission approves French scheme deferring payment by airlines of certain taxes to mitigate economic impact of coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus: Commission launches call for innovative response and recovery partnerships between EU regions

European Accessibility Act: Parliament and Council negotiators strike a deal

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: