The holidays get busy. Traveling is stressful and we aren’t always as vigilant as we should be. In today’s world of data breaches, identity theft and cybercrime, there are many things we know to be cautious about. You wouldn’t give away your credit card number or let a stranger have access to your driver’s license. But are cyber safe with your phone? We have become so dependent on our phones to store sensitive and private data. Sometimes forget that we need to protect it too.
Let’s take a look at a scenario that could happen to any of us:
The morning was a rush and you made it to the airport on time, thankfully. After getting through security, there is a little time to breath. You grab some coffee, check your phone and realize you forgot to charge it. Ugh. Your phone needs to be charged to last the whole flight and still have juice when you land. You notice a charging station near your gate. There are even cords already plugged in, so you don’t have to dig yours out of your mess of a bag. Score!
You may not be as lucky as you feel. Cyber criminals are taking advantage of how dependent we are on our devices and their need to be charged. This new scam, known as “juice jacking” takes advantage of your connection to your phone.
How does it work?
Phone cords are designed for 2-way communication. Data can come in, but data also goes out. This can be seen every time you attach an iPhone to your computer and iTunes wants to download your data. Convenient when you want it, but bad when the criminals want it. Criminals download malware into the charging station or physically alter the charging station installing a cable connected to a virus laden device, and wait until you connect. They then have access to everything on your phone. What do you keep saved?
- Credit card information?
Depending on the malware, they could download your data or install malware on your phone that will continue to monitor your usage. They might even lock you out of your phone completely. The biggest concern; you may never know. A week later you’re seeing fraudulent charges on an account and trying to figure out what happened. This is very similar to the card skimmers installed at gas stations.
What can you do?
Thankfully there are easy ways to avoid this scam.
- Use your own AC adapter and cord
- Plug into a wall outlet, not a charging station
- Use a “charge only” cord at a charging station
- Use personal car chargers
- Use a portable charger
Be cyber safe this holiday season
Physical security is important and easy to remember. We see our wallet; we protect our wallet. This holiday season, let’s also remember our cyber safety.