Don’t Forget to Pack a USB Condom When Traveling

The only way to prevent juice jacking is to use a USB
condom, which is not as crazy as it might sound. Hackers are looking for new
ways to compromise people’s computers, and one way is through public USB ports.

You’re in a hurry, you’re grabbing a quick meal, and you see a USB port near the table, so you decide to charge your phone while you’re eating. It could be safe, but it could have been compromised by hackers looking to steal data or install malware on devices of unsuspecting users. This process, called juice jacking, is more common than you think.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office is advising
people to stay away from public USB power charging stations in airports, hotels
and other locations because they could contain malware. It’s the last thing
users would think about, but it’s like connecting your phone or laptop to an
unsecured Wi-Fi network.

“In the USB Charger Scam, often called “juice
jacking,” criminals load malware onto charging stations or cables they
leave plugged in at the stations so they may infect the phones and other
electronic devices of unsuspecting users. The malware may lock the device or
export data and passwords directly to the scammer,” says
the District Attorney office.

There are two ways to mitigate this problem. One would be
to travel with a charger at all times, or at least use a second researchable
battery. The second would be to a so-called USB condom, which is a rough but
accurate description of the device.

A USB condom is a small interface that sits between your
charging cable and the charging port itself. It blocks the data ports on the
USB charging station, leaving only the current to pass through. It’s not overly
complicated, but it works, and it’s a great way to stay safe while on the move.

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