Charging Your Smartphone in Public Ports Leads to Data Hack

A smartphone with a low battery is a real problem, especially when you are on the go. In such scenario, finding a USB port installed somewhere or charging facility at public outlets seems to be a blessing.

Public charging ports are installed almost everywhere for the users and visitors convenience such as at airports, conference centers, cafes, parks and planes, etc. All you need to do is plug in your cell phone and feel relaxed and relieved.

However, the Drew Paik from the IT security firm Authentic8 told the CNN that this is a very dangerous thing to do as it might be hacked and all of the data present in your phone can easily be transferred to the hacker.

Basically, Authentic8 is a developer of Silo web browser which facilitates anonymous web surfing. The revelation from the Paik is very surprising and concerning as he bluntly states that simply through plugging in phone into a hacked power strip or charger would lead to getting your device being infected at once and all your data will be at risk. The main reason is because, the cord which is used to send and receive data is used to charge the device.

For example, if you connect your iPhone to your Mac device using the same charging cord, you can easily transfer images and music from your mobile to your Mac. Hence, through compromising this particular cord, a hacker can extract all sorts of data from your mobile including emails, pictures, SMS messages, contact numbers, etc., without you having even a small doubt about it.

This kind of hacking is termed as “Juice Jacking“.

Juice Jacking is a hidden risk!

The risk being talked about here is called juice jacking, a term that was coined back in 2011 and this was followed by the creation of another term called “Video Jacking“, which was introduced in 2016. Wondering how does juice jacking work? Well, it doesn’t matter what kind of smartphone are you using–it transfers power and data over the same cable.

This feature allows the hacker to create a simple exploit and inject a malware into the device by accessing the USB port illegally.

It might be done by taking control of a charging kiosk. In technical terms, here, the attack vector is the device’s USB port and the exposure factor is based on a user’s awareness and battery life.

To bring this threat into the limelight and educate the attendees, at DefCon 2011, security researchers built such charging kiosks. When no device was connected, the LCD fitted into the charging station showed “Free Cell Phone Charging Kiosk.” However, when someone plugged in a device, a warning was shown.

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