If you travel to the airport or make stops at shopping centers or stay at hotels with your cellphone or portable device, then at some point you probably needed a recharge. You may have left your charger block and USB at home forcing you to use a public charging station. You could unknowingly be connecting your phone to bad stuff through the USB. The FBI is warning you to not use charging stations in public places.  Officials said that “Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices.”

Public Charging Station

Malware installed through a corrupted USB port can lock a device or export personal data and passwords directly to the perpetrator. Criminals can then use that information to access online accounts or sell it, according to experts.

In addition to the FBI’s warning, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has also warned about “juice jacking.” That is another name for the malware-loading scam. “In some cases, criminals may have intentionally left cables plugged in at charging stations,” said the FCC. “There have even been reports of infected cables being given away as promotional gifts.”

“If your battery is running low, be aware that juicing up your electronic device at free USB port charging stations, such as those found near airport gates, in hotels and other travel-friendly locations, could have unfortunate consequences,” the FCC said. “You could become a victim of ‘juice jacking,’ a new cyber-theft tactic.”

It is suggested that you carry your own charger and USB cord and plug them into an electrical outlet instead. They also advise that you avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels, or shopping centers.

Similar guidance is listed on the FBI website on how to avoid public chargers. Also, protect your systems and data.

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