Hackers can steal your data if you use public charging stations to charge phones: Odisha Police shares advisory

Carry a power bank rather than using a public charging station.

Highlights
  • Odisha Police has shared an advisory to not use public charging stations.
  • Hackers can load them with malware and access your phone connected via the USB cable from the other side.
  • Unplug your handset immediately if you get a transfer file prompt while charging your phone via a public charging station.

There’s no denying that public charging facilities come in handy when a phone’s battery is about to die, but now it could also open a gateway for hackers to steal your data. Odisha Police has shared an advisory as hackers load public chargers with malware and connect the USB cable on the other side to access your phone jacked to that port.

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While you’re busy utilising free charging services, hackers infect your phone with viruses and steal your confidential details. This process is called Juice Jacking.

Note that here we’re talking about a USB charging port, not to be confused with a regular electric switch plug that you plug into your charging adaptor. Those USB charging slots could likely be connected to different devices by hackers.

As soon as you plug in your phone to any of these charging ports, your phone could become vulnerable and be subject to data theft. Hackers could control your phone and commit cybercrimes from your device. You won’t even know these shenanigans are happening via/to your phone through these USB ports.

What can you do in such a case?

Most smartphones nowadays have data transfer disabled by default and only let you send files when manually allowed. For example, when you connect your phone to your computer, you’ll witness a prompt message about whether you want to share files or charge the device. Unplug your handset immediately if you get that prompt while charging your phone via a public charging station.

A counter to this juice jacking would be to carry a power bank or smartphone charger and charge your phone via a wall electricity socket.