To avoid exposing their devices to harmful software, the FBI advises people to avoid utilizing public phone charging stations.

According to a tweet from the FBI’s Denver bureau last week, criminal actors are using public USB stations like those found in malls and airports to spread malware and tracking software. The agency provided no particular instances.

“Carry your own charger and USB cord, and use an electrical outlet instead,” the agency said in a tweet.

While public charging stations are appealing to many when a device’s battery is critically low, security experts have been concerned about the issue for years. To explain the situation, researchers developed the phrase “juice jacking” in 2011.

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“Just by plugging your phone into a [compromised] power strip or charger, your device is now infected, and that compromises all your data,” Drew Paik, former CEO of security firm Authentic8, told CNN in 2017.

The charging cord is also used to transfer data from your phone to other devices. When you hook your iPhone into your Mac with the charging cable, for example, you can download images from your phone to your computer.

If a port is exploited, a hacker can steal any information they want, as Paik previously stated to CNN. Email, text messages, photographs, and contacts are all included.

“The FBI regularly provides reminders and public service announcements in conjunction with our partners,” Vikki Migoya, public affairs officer at the FBI’s Denver branch, told CNN. “This was a general reminder to the American public to be cautious and cautious, especially when traveling.”

RELATED: The FBI Recommends Avoiding Free Charging Stations At Hotels And Airports

On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission updated a blog post warning that a tainted charging port can allow a bad actor to lock a device or steal personal data and passwords.

“In some cases, criminals may have intentionally left cables plugged in at charging stations,” the FCC blog post says. “There have even been reports of infected cables being given away as promotional gifts.”


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