FBI warns of 'juice-jacking' threat to phones from public charging stations

Phone users could be left with 'unfortunate consequences', the FBI has cautioned. Credit: PA

The FBI has issued a renewed warning of the possible risks linked to using public charging stations, claiming electronic devices are at risk of a cyber crime dubbed "juice-jacking".

Communications from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have said that members of the public could face "unfortunate consequences" if they charge their smartphones from public docking stations.

"Bad actors can load malware onto public USB charging stations to maliciously access electronic devices while they are being charged," a FCC statement read.

"Malware installed through a corrupted USB port can lock a device or export personal data and passwords directly to the perpetrator."

So-called juice-jacking is a term which the FBI has used before and the latest warnings are part of a regular reminder on the issue, according to Axios.

Neither the FBI or FCC have revealed how common juice-jacking is, but experts have warned that hackers who gain access to someone's personal device could obtain data, such as credit card information.

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How can you avoid juice-jacking?

Advice from the FCC recomends people taking the following steps to avoid becoming a victim of juice-jacking:

  • Do not use a public USB charging station and utilise an AC power outlet instead

  • Carry your own portable chargers and cables when travelling to avoid using public versions

  • Look into getting a charging-only cable, which prevents data from sending or receiving while charging, from a trusted supplier

  • Ignore any prompts to "share data" if you use public charging stations