How To Avoid 'Juice Jacking' at Public Mobile Charging Stations
A few days ago, State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, warned its customers about not using public stations for charging their gadgets like a mobile handset, tablet or any other computer device. 
 
In a tweet, SBI said, "Think twice before you plug in your phone at charging stations. Malware could find a way in and infect your phone, giving hackers a way to steal your passwords and export your data."
 
What SBI is trying to warn about is possible hacking through hardware (like universal serial bus—USB). This technique is known as 'juice jacking' among security experts who have been warning users about it since many years. However, with the holiday season, SBI may have just revived the warning, especially for travellers. 
 
Public mobile charging stations are common in crowded places. Telecom operators in India also provide charging stations for mobile handsets. Users, who find that their handsets are running out of battery, find these stations useful and happily plug in their mobile for charging. However, it may not be as safe and secure as it appears. 
 
There may be hackers behind these public charging stations, who may be waiting to steal information from your mobile, a process known as juice jacking. 
 
Juice jacking involves a charging port that doubles as a data connection, typically, over USB. Through this, hackers either install malware or surreptitiously copy sensitive data from a smartphone, tablet or other computer devices. 
 
The US National Security Agency, in late-2012, had warned government employees to use only their personal power charging cables and not to use public kiosk or charge devices through other people's computers especially while travelling overseas. 
 
In 2013, some security researchers and students from Georgia Institute of Technology demonstrated how juice jacking works. By using inexpensive hardware components, they constructed a small-sized wall-charger that could infect an iPhone through malicious software. 
 
Some of those who watched ‘CSI: Cyber’ a few years ago, would remember that juice jacking was at the centre of the 9th episode (L0M1S) of its first season released in April 2015.
 
Users should also be aware about not connecting their gadgets or devices to any unknown USB drives. Hong Kong-based USB Kill has been selling a device called as ‘USB Killer’ for about $54.95
 
This device, when plugged into any unprotected computer device (or mobile through on-the-go or OTG), can instantly and permanently disable the target hardware, the company claims. 
 
“When plugged into a device, the USB Killer rapidly charges its capacitors from the USB power lines. When the device is charged, -200VDC is discharged over the data-lines of the host device. This charge/discharge cycle is repeated many times per second, until the USB Killer is removed,” USB Kill says. However, more about these devices in another article.
 
I mentioned USB Kill especially because, nowadays, many mobile users get lured with ‘fast charging’ and try to buy chargers that claims to provide more power for charging. Some of the ‘fast charging’ chargers, manufactured by companies other than the device-makers, claim to provide 18 watts or more. However, beware of such false claims. If there is no built-in protection in the charger, it may get burned or even fry your mobile device as well.  
 
Coming back to juice jacking, there are certain precautions that users must take. 
1. Never use a public charging station or anyone else’s laptop or PC for charging your electronic device like mobile, tablet or notebook.

2. Always use the charger and cable provided by the manufacturer of the device.

3. Buy a good-quality power bank with sufficient capacity (above 10,000 milliampere hour - mAh). (Read: More Power to Your Device!) This will take care of your device in case it runs out of power.
 
4. Try to use a cable (especially while travelling) that can be used only as charging cable and not data cable. It may, however, be difficult, since almost all cables sold in the market are capable of charging as well as data transfer.
 
5. Frequent travellers can think about buying SyncStop, earlier known as USB condom. This small device disallows data connection to be passed through an USB cable by blocking data pins. SyncStop costs $12.99 and can be bought from the company’s website (available in the US only).
  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    COMMENTS

    Aditya G

    1 month ago

    Interesting article. The best is to use analog or feature phones.

    ROHIT SAXENA

    1 month ago

    Was discussing this last week with one of my colleague and he pointed out the same. I have been planning to use power-only data cable (which I hated till now :) ) for public place charging.

    tanay

    1 month ago

    how about if we keep the mobile phone switched off while charging it from a public charging point.....can the data still be stolen?

    Ritesh Kumar Singh

    1 month ago

    I was wondering how with charging port this can be done on seeing SBI tweet, Thanks for the timely article, It's pretty clear now.
    Thanks

    K C Gangadhar

    1 month ago

    Thanks for the alert

    Sudhir Mankodi

    1 month ago

    very informative indeed.

    Countdown+: Never Forget an Event Again
    Countdown+ is a reminder app which shows you your important events at predetermined intervals before the event. You can store your birthdays, anniversaries, events, trips and vacations and any event which you care to be reminded of. Featuring beautiful widgets with your own images and backgrounds, keeping track of events has never been more fun!
     
    With the Countdown clock display, you can tell the time to, or from, any event in years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and even seconds. Want more notifications closer to an event? With the smart reminder feature, you configure your countdown event and get notifications more frequently as the event approaches. Never forget an event again! You can sync it with your Facebook events and also your Google calendar and iCal.
     
    You can share your event countdowns by text message, email, Facebook, and Twitter with a snapshot of the countdown background and a link that allows family and friends to join in your countdown.
     
    A wonderful, fun way to keep a countdown of your precious events!
     
     
     
  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    Tricount: Split Bills & Manage Group Expenses
    Tricount is an app which helps you share expenses in a group. It is great for holidays, organising parties or events with several people, managing your budget, etc.
     
    With a simple, intuitive interface, it helps you share and manage expenses within a group. It also helps in uneven sharing of expenses which can be of real help when you need it. It even works offline with updates whenever you connect with the Internet.
     
    You just need to create an account, share the link with your friends and you are good to go! Once the entries are done, you can instantly figure out who should pay how much to whom and settle your accounts. Forget Excel now; use Tricount to share your expenses easily and efficiently.
     
     
  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    COMMENTS

    Zadio Thunder

    1 month ago

    That not never

    We are listening!

    Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
      Loading...
    Close

    To continue


    Please
    Sign Up or Sign In
    with

    Email
    Close

    To continue


    Please
    Sign Up or Sign In
    with

    Email

    BUY NOW

    online financial advisory
    Pathbreakers
    Pathbreakers 1 & Pathbreakers 2 contain deep insights, unknown facts and captivating events in the life of 51 top achievers, in their own words.
    online financia advisory
    The Scam
    24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
    Moneylife Online Magazine
    Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
    financial magazines online
    Stockletters in 3 Flavours
    Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
    financial magazines in india
    MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
    (Includes Moneylife Online Magazine)
    FREE: Your Complete Family Record Book
    Keep all the Personal and Financial Details of You & Your Family. In One Place So That`s Its Easy for Anyone to Find Anytime
    We promise not to share your email id with anyone