While traveling has many benefits, one of the few downsides is that you must guard yourself against scams, especially in countries where you don’t speak the language. From pickpockets and taxi cabs with “broken” meters to hotel listings that don’t match reality, there’s plenty to worry about.
According to a recent warning tweeted by the FBI, there’s a high-tech scam travelers should also know: “juice jacking.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines this form of cyber theft as when hackers “load malware onto public USB charging stations to access electronic devices maliciously while they are being charged.”
We typically find these public USB charging stations where travelers need a boost to keep a draining cellphone battery alive. That includes airports, bus stations, and train stations.
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Once you plug your device into a corrupted USB port, the malware can “lock a device or export personal data and passwords directly to the perpetrator,” the FCC explains on its website. “Criminals can then use that information to access online accounts or sell it to other bad actors.”
To protect yourself from “juice jacking,” the FCC recommends packing your USB cable or an external battery pack. There are also specialty USB cables that can charge your electronic devices; this adds an extra layer of security. The top recommendation is to carry your regular charger and plug it into an AC power outlet.
If all else fails and you must charge with a USB chord at a public charging station, pay attention to any prompts that might appear on your screen. If your device asks you to select “share data,” “trust this computer,” or “charge only,” always choose “charge only.”
It’s important to note that while the FCC has shown that “juice jacking” is technically possible, there have been no confirmed cases or victims of this crime. Still, being aware and playing it safe is essential.
Media Corp USA
The Journal of Record
Jessica is a freelance journalist on a quest to see and experience everything our gorgeous planet offers and share her experiences with her fellow travelers. Jessica has written for several world-class Travel Magazines.