Travelling soon? Here's why you should avoid public charging ports
Most of us don’t think twice before charging mobile phones and tablets in public places, powering them up at airports before boarding flights, or even in public cafes and hotel rooms. However, this could lead to data being extracted from your devices, including passwords, or malwares being added to them.
This is because USB cables were initially designed to transfer charge as well as data. While everything today is uploaded on the cloud, the time USB cables and smartphones were invented, data used to be backed up through connected those devices with the computers using these data cables.
With chips being designed to be as small as those that can fit into cables to extract data, it is worth erring on the side of caution.
Moreover, one might notice USB slots in public spaces, whereby you can plug in your own USB cable. While this might seem like a safer precaution, the other side of the USB slot can have data extracting devices.
These types of attacks to extract data through cables and devices at the end of them, are known as “juice jackings.”
Having said that, smartphone makers haven’t been sitting ideally by in the face of these security breach developments. Latest operating systems alert users when a device or software is attempting to extract data. Moreover, there are charging-only cables available, in case you have lost the original wire that came with the device, or prefer to have backups.
Another solution is to simply carry your own USB charging cable as well as socket and adapter for the region you are travelling to, and that should protect you from such attacks.
Security at airports have always been tight, and with the awareness of cybersecurity, it is not easy for sockets to be hacked into. However, hacking cables can be “accidentally” left behind.
Such attacks have not been commonly reported in the real world, and are often just showcased at cybersecurity forums and conferences. However, it is better to be aware and take safety precautions rather than unknowingly fall victim to such malware and data theft attacks that can result in identity thefts.