Hacking Techniques: USB Chargers and Charging Stations

Usb cable and charger

Crackers (cyber criminals, also called black hat hackers) might leave around hacking chargers. These will install malwares on connected devices (smartphones, tablets and laptops).

This scam might be very difficult to recognize until the damage is done.
Do your best to avoid it.

1) How it works

This scheme, called also “Juice Jacking”, uses parts of the chargers (the USB connectors, the cube or adapter, or both) as hacking devices.

Scammers then leave these jammed chargers in busy places hoping someone will pick them up and use them.

Criminals might also be able to tamper with public charging stations (such as those in plazas, malls, airports or train stations). From these USB ports they could attack any device connected to that column.

A USB cube_adapter for power outlets
USB Cube_Adapter for power outlets (Credit - Markus Winkler pexels)

2) What you risk

It depends on the installed malware and the aims of the criminals.

It is a matter of leaking any sensitive and non-sensitive data that transit from the hacked device. Or to take control of it.

Some data may be used shortly, such as payment systems. Others might be sold to third parties who could use them for some other scam.

You may also be blackmailed or have your identity stolen.

One big problem for a non-expert in the sector is that might be hard to understand if a device is infected or not before it’s too late.

For all these reasons we need to avoid this type of scam.

3) How to avoid it

To avoid this scam is as easy as avoiding connecting our devices to unknown random cables, chargers, adapters, charging stations or USB ports of any kind.

Use only yours (caves and cubes) or those you know are safe. Plugging your cubes into a traditional power outlet should be fine and avoid the problem. This also applies to renting houses and rooms (see extras).

It’s that easy.

Also, installing and updating an efficient antivirus systems could help thwart any hacking attempts.

4) Extras and Thoughts

Pay also attention to the chargers, charging stations and usb ports you might find in houses and rooms for rent, they could be dangerous too.

(Explore our post on the top 10 house rental scams here)

You may realize it months later and not even connect the hacking to that stay. Or, as mentioned, you might never notice the working malware.

Power and USB sockets on the wall.
USB wall outlets may be unsafe. (Credit - F. Muhammad via Pixabay)

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