F.B.I. Warns Users About the Risks of Public Phone Chargers, Hack Attacks

The FBI Is Warning Consumers Against Using Public Phone Charging Stations In Order To Avoid Exposing Their Devices To Malicious Software.(Credits: ShutterStock)

The FBI is cautioning consumers about the potential risks associated with using public phone charging stations, citing concerns over the spread of malicious software.

In a recent tweet, the FBI’s Denver branch highlighted the vulnerability of public USB stations, commonly found in locations such as malls and airports, to be exploited by malicious actors for the dissemination of malware and monitoring software.

While specific examples were not provided by the agency, it strongly advised individuals to carry their own chargers and USB cords and opt for electrical outlets instead.

Be Wary of Hacking Threats From Convenient Charging Stations, Officials Say

‘Don’t Let A Free USB Charge Wind Up Draining Your Bank Account,’ The Federal Communications Commission Website Warns. (Credits: ShutterStock)

Despite the convenience of public charging stations, security experts have long warned of the inherent risks. Coined in 2011, the term “juice jacking” aggregates the threat posed by compromised charging stations, whereby plugging a device into an infected power source can lead to the infiltration of personal data.

Drew Paik, formerly of security firm Authentic8, emphasized the severity of the issue, explaining how a compromised port could grant hackers access to sensitive information such as emails, text messages, photos, and contacts. The very cord used for charging also facilitates data transfer between devices, heightening the potential for unauthorized access.

Public Phone Charging Stations (Credits: Getty Images)

Vikki Migoya, public affairs officer at the FBI’s Denver branch, emphasized the importance of vigilance, particularly during travel, underscoring the agency’s commitment to public safety through regular reminders and public service announcements.

Echoing the FBI’s concerns, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) updated a blog post to warn consumers about the dangers of corrupted charging ports, which can lead to device lockouts or the extraction of personal data and passwords. The FCC highlighted instances where criminals have deliberately left infected cables at charging stations or distributed them as promotional gifts, further emphasizing the need for caution.

Public Phone Charging Stations (Credits: Getty Images)

As the prevalence of public charging stations continues to grow, individuals are urged to prioritize security by utilizing personal chargers and avoiding potentially compromised outlets, thereby safeguarding their devices and personal information from exploitation.

Mousumi Routray is experienced content writer who helps businesses reach their audience through engaging content. She has written blog posts, articles, newsletters and more for companies in tech, entertainment and other industries.