How to arm devices against the cyber security threat of ‘juice jacking’

‘Juice jacking’ is the latest cyber security threat that has got everyone talking – and for good reason. In recent weeks, the FBI has issued a stark warning about this opportunistic method of hacking taking shape in the USA — in which perpetrators use public charging stations to install malware onto your phone or device. Once installed, the cyber criminals will have untapped access to your personal data — including passwords, financial information, sensitive documents, and more. 

So, what can you do to protect yourself from this growing threat? Jason Fenwick, lead technical engineer at Vapour, shares five crucial tips to maximise your security posture and keep your data safe…

Refrain from using public charging stations

It's always tempting to use public charging stations when your devices are running low on battery — not least because they’re so convenient. But these outlets can be a breeding ground for cyber threats. 

Instead, make sure your device is fully charged before you leave the house, and carry a portable power bank with you as an emergency backup. This will not only help protect your data, but also save you from the risk of using public charging stations altogether. There’s no telling which outlets may be compromised, so it’s safer to presume that all are a potential danger — at least until preventative measures are implemented on a large scale.

Invest in a data blocker

If using a public charging station is non-negotiable, you should absolutely invest in a data blocker — also known as a USB condom. This is a small piece of technology that plugs into the charging port of your device, and prevents any data transfers from going ahead, while still allowing your device to charge. 

It works by only connecting the charging pins of the USB cable, while disconnecting the data pins that are used for transferring information. So, even if the charging station you’re using has been compromised with malware, the adapter will effectively block any attempts to access your personal data. It's a simple and affordable solution that could prove crucial in the event of an attack.

Enable multi-factor authentication

Adding an extra layer of security to your online accounts has always been crucial in maintaining a robust cyber security strategy. But the emergence of ‘juice jacking’ should definitely prompt users to enable multi-factor authentication on their devices, if they haven’t already.

With this method, you'll need an additional form of identification to be approved before gaining access to data — such as entering a code sent to your mobile phone, confirming a biometric like a fingerprint or voice recognition, or answering a security question that only you should know. Even if someone knows your password, this makes entry much more difficult.

Maintain consistent software updates

Staying on top of software updates is crucial for protecting your device from digital threats, as they often include security patches that address known vulnerabilities in the software.

By installing updates as soon as they become available, users can ensure their technology is protected against potential cyber attacks that exploit these weaknesses. Failure to do so leaves devices at risk and increases the likelihood of successful cyber attacks.

Use a VPN when connected to public networks

A virtual private network (VPN) can help maximise lines of security, by protecting your online activity from perpetrators. When you connect to a VPN, your internet traffic is encrypted and routed through a private network — making any attempts to intercept and steal your data a far greater challenge.

‘Juice jacking’ is a serious threat that can put your personal data at risk. And while momentum is only seemingly gaining in the USA right now, there’s no telling whether we could soon see a similar trend gain legs in the UK. 

That’s why remaining vigilant when using public charging stations or connecting to unknown networks is not only key for any device user, but for IT professionals on the go too — ahead of the hopeful roll-out of more formal guidance.

At Vapour, we believe that prevention is better than cure when it comes to cyber security. By taking a proactive approach to data protection, you can avoid the potential pitfalls and costs associated with digital attacks.

If you have a simple query about augmenting your defences, or want to understand more about maximising the security posture of your business, get in touch.

Posted By Vapour Comms Team
21/04/2023

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