Login | April 23, 2019

‘Juice jacking’—something else to worry about

RICHARD WEINER
Technology for Lawyers

Published: January 18, 2019

No, just because you’re not in the office, your data isn’t safe.

We have talked forever about the dangers of public use of those devices—from hijacked Wi-Fi hotspots to “war driving” to leaving your device in an Uber (used to be “in a cab” but progress) or a Starbucks.

But there’s another danger in having these devices out in public that we haven’t talked about, and my job is to scare you into taking data security seriously, so here we go.

Whether you travel for business or pleasure, probably you take your various devices with you. Smartphone, tablet, laptop, pager (just kidding)—you have to stay connected.

And those devices need to stay charged. And guess what? Even charging those devices can be dangerous when you’re on the road. Long waits for airplanes or downtime periods as the jury is out is a perfect time to scroll your 500 newsletters or catch up on email. Of course, that eats up the battery, and at some point the device has to be recharged.

Welcome to “juice jacking.” In airports, coffee shops, and public spaces, often you’ll see charging ports for your devices. If you plug into the wrong one, someone on the other side of that public charger may be downloading or changing your data while your phone is charging.

That’s right. Here and there these charging points are actually device hijackers. They can take your data even if your phone is off or on airplane mode. So the tech folks recommend that you follow some simple safety precautions.

Now, its not a big problem, and its easily overcome, but it does exist. Therefore, you have to add these solutions to this problem to your “to do” data protection list when you leave the friendly confines. So do these things:

First, don’t use public charging stations. But then, of course, you need to charge your device. So do these things as well:

Always leave with a full charge.

Next, carry a portable battery. I always do. They’re cheap and useful.

Always carry a charging cord with you as well. I always do this as well. They are also cheap and really necessary.

Also, turn off all data sharing capabilities of your phone.

An ounce of prevention, you know.


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