Juice Jacking Debunked

Juice Jacking Debunked

Within the past few months, a government organization sent out communications on X, formerly known as Twitter, and other platforms warning consumers to not use public charging stations, such as those in malls and airports. They warn that some of these charging devices may have been tampered with and can be used for crooks to hijack your devices through malware that can harm your device, or software that allows them access to your information; what is called ‘Juice Jacking’.

While these claims are possibilities, we’re here to inform you that its extremely unlikely to happen. In fact, there has not been a single confirmed instance of this occurring. So, while it’s always good to exercise caution, there’s really no need to fret.

 

FACT OR FAKE NEWS?

Here’s a little more info on why Juice Jacking is more of a media scare than anything to lose sleep over:

First is the fact that today’s iPhones and Android devices require users to click through a specific   message before they can exchange files with a device connected by standard cables. So, you are warned by your phone if someone is trying to transfer anything to/from your device.

Trust-Dont-Trust-alert-iPhone

Besides that, most charging products aren’t designed with data transfer capability.  For example, none of Byrne’s charging products contain USB ports that can carry data. These are the types of charging ports you’ll find in public spaces, like Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, MI.  Because there isn’t any way for data to get through, there’s no risk for your data to be stolen from your devices, unless of course the unit has been tampered with. We’ll get to that in a second.

ByrneAncillary_10008-A_C_edit

Let’s say a data hacker does tamper with the charging unit. There are two ways they could do this.

  1. They have to tear apart the whole unit, insert their malware into the product, and reassemble it.

This is unlikely to happen, as it would be extremely expensive for the hacker—not to mention labor intensive—as this type of equipment can cost thousands of dollars. Not worth their time for everyday passerby.

  1. They insert a thumb drive sized adaptor into the front of the unit.

This would protrude out of the unit, so you could look and identify if the unit has been messed with. If there’s no funky add-ons to the device, you’re in the clear.

 

WHAT ABOUT CHARGING CORDS?

This article from ARS Technica explains how a hacker could use charging cords to get into your device, however they also found that this is another unlikely and essentially impossible situation. Regardless, we always recommend using your own cord, and if you’re still not convinced, there are special protective cords and adapters on the market that block data transfers from happening.

 

SO... WE JUST THROW CAUTION TO THE WIND?

No. It’s always good practice to watch out for risky business in public areas—with data and devices, and just in general. When it comes to device security, consumers should be more concerned with ensuring that they have strong passwords and consistently install security updates than avoiding charging their phone in a public space when it’s down to 1% battery life.

Case closed.

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