The FBI is warning the public against using publicly available USB charging stations to power up their devices. In a tweet, the federal law enforcement agency’s Denver office stated that bad actors could deliver malware to your device while you’re charging.
Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centers. Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices. Carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead. pic.twitter.com/9T62SYen9T
— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) April 6, 2023
The tweet also recommends carrying your own charging cable and connecting your devices through an electrical outlet rather than a USB charging hub.
Public charging stations for mobile devices have become commonplace in places like malls, airports, and hotels in recent years. And are a battery life-saver for users running low on power on their smartphones, laptops, and more. However, many people don’t realize that data can be transferred through electrical currents, opening their devices to malware threats such as viruses and spyware. With this new warning from the FBI, the public should treat public charging with the same skepticism they view publicly available Wi-Fi.
The Denver Post reports that the Denver International Airport is aware of the practice, known as “Juice Jacking,” but isn’t aware of any specific incidents happening at its facility.
DIA spokesperson Ashley Forest stated that the facility “has methods of determining whether a public charging port has been tampered with and the ability to take any tampered port out of service.” But went on to say, “the best defense against this type of attack on any public charging port remains within the smartphone itself,” and that Apple and Android phones provide updates to devices that “alert users to this type of attack when using a public charging port,” according to the Post.