The FBI issues a public warning against the use of communal charging stations because of the threat they pose to the data safety and privacy of their users. Apparently, compromised charging kiosks have a high risk of exposing the users’ devices to cyberattacks. According to the report, cyber attackers use USB kiosks, which are rampant in airports and shopping malls, to spread malicious software to any device connected to them. This is because USB devices can be programmed to automatically execute certain commands or run certain programs when they are plugged into a computer. If a USB kiosk is infected with malware, any device that is plugged into it could potentially be infected as well. This attack, known as ‘juice jacking’, makes it possible for perpetrators to access and copy sensitive data from unsuspecting mobile devices, including but not limited to text messages, files, banking information, and passwords. This type of attack is possible because the same cables used for charging are also capable of transferring data from one device to another. While the warning was issued recently, juice jacking has been an issue since 2011, the same year the said terminology was coined and introduced.

Amidst this threat, the agency advised the public to avoid using public charging stations as much as possible. They further recommend that people bring their own chargers and cables when traveling to plug into electrical outlets directly. Another sound and popular option is for them to bring portable power banks. Updating the security features of mobile devices is a sound way to counter juice jacking as well.