Secure USB charging: Protect Your Digital Life - Securitybase

Secure USB charging: Protect Your Digital Life

Australia is experiencing an increase in cyber incidents in 2023, with recent incidents such as the Medibank, Optus, and Woolworths hacks having a significant impact on individuals and businesses. An upcoming threat is juice jacking, as more people are using public and semi public USB charging stations to charge their phone, tablet, cameras and other devices.

Juice jacking, also referred to as charging attack, is a type of cyber breach where a hacker modifies a public USB charging station. This gives them access to your device, or to install malware on a mobile phone or tablet that is plugged into the USB port. This allows them to steal data from a device, including passwords, credit card details, and personal photos. Both Apple iPhone as Android devices are sensitive to this type of attack.

A variation to this attack is where devices such as charging banks, fans or other electronic devices have pre-installed malware which can infect a computer when connected to charge them. An infamous attack happened in 2018, when journalists attending a press conference in China were given USB drives shaped like fans. These drives were later found to be infected with malware that could steal data from computers. This incident highlights the dangers of using USB drives from unknown sources.

Juice Jacking In Australia

There have been recent incidents and warnings related to juice jacking in Australia. In 2019, the University of Technology in Sydney warned students about the risk of juice jacking afterthey reported their devices were infected with malware after using public charging stations on campus.

In 2020, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) issued a warning about a new type of juice jacking attack that is targeting Android devices. This attack uses a malicious USB cable to install malware on Android devices that can steal personal data and financial information.

The Daily Aus reported on the hidden threat of juice jacking at public charging stations in a recent video. The video demonstrates how easy it is to install malware on charging stations or cables, and how quickly that malware can be transferred to a user's device.

In 2023, the FBI issued a warning about the risk of juice jacking at airports around the world. The FBI warned that criminals are targeting airports, including airports in Australia, because they are a place where people are often distracted and may not be paying close attention to their devices. Airports also allow hackers, who can be motivated by financial, political, or other malicious motives, to roam free in an international zone, where they are not checked by border control or customs.

The Good News: You Can Prevent Juice Jacking

You can take action to protect against juice jacking or charging attacks:

  • If you are using a public charging station, disable data transfer on your device (and don’t click yes when asked to trust the device).
  • Keep your device's operating system and security software up to date.
  • Use a USB Data Blocker when charging your devices when traveling, in a public space or using a work station.
  • Only charge USB accessories, such as a fan, charging bank or other devices with your laptop or computer when using a USB Data Blocker to prevent any unintentional malware being installed on your device.

How Does A Securitybase USB Data Blocker Work?

Normal USB devices have four channels: two for data and two for power. The data channels are used to transfer data between the device and the station it is connected to. The power channels are used to power and charge the device.

SecurityBase USB data blockers only have the two power channels. This means that when you plug a USB data blocker into an USB port, only the power channels are connected to your device. The data channels are removed, so no data can be transferred. This allows your device to charge, but it cannot send or receive data.

Data blockers are easy to use and effectively protect against juice jacking. They are small and lightweight and can be easily carried around with you. SecurityBase has developed a USB Data Blocker which has been vetted by information security professionals, is tested in Australia and is guaranteed to block all data transfers.

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