Cyber Cops

Free is Never Free: Juice Jacking

“When something is offered for free, you are the product”

What is Juice Jacking

Juice Jacking is referred to as a security exploit in which the hacker infects a public USB charging station and uses it to compromise the systems that will connect to it. The hackers take advantage of the fact that a mobile charging cable and data transfer cable are the same. It is a very huge threat to your privacy. It can happen at airports, shopping malls, and other public places that provide free charging stations for mobile devices. However, the risk of becoming a victim of a juice jacking exploit is very low but it is often compared to ATM card skimming exploits from past years.

Juice jacking relies on the end user’s feeling of safety. The users will never get to know that their device has been hacked. The biggest vulnerability in this attack is the confidence of the user that their device is safe to use and charge at any random location using a public charging station.

How does it Work

Juice Jacking is based on hardware insertion. It acts almost like a man-in-the-middle attack, only it requires the user to insert the USB into their device. Once the device is connected, the USB starts its job of juice jacking. Hackers use a USB connection to load malware directly onto the charging station and wait in the shadows. Many hackers drop infected USB cables in busy areas such as bus stations, or underground metro stations. When the victim picks it up and connects it to their computer or mobile phone, the device gets infected.

Juice jacking is very successful because the same cable that is used to charge your mobile phone is used to transfer data from a computer system. Any USB device has 5 pins, however, only one is required to charge the device and two are required to transfer data. This architecture allows the user to charge their phone while any malicious code or file is being transferred to their mobile device.

Now that we have learned a bit about Juice Jacking, let's see what different purposes can be fulfilled using Juice Jacking attack

Types of Juice Jacking

Data Theft

This is the most common threat that your device will be vulnerable to after it is compromised. Users will not be aware that their sensitive information is being stolen. The longer your device is connected to the infected cable, the higher amount of data will be transferred. If the hackers get enough time, they can easily create a complete backup of all your files containing each and everything from your phone.

Malware Installation

Once your device is infected, the moment you connect it to your computer, the malware will transfer a copy of itself on your computer. This malware can include viruses, ransomware or open a backdoor for remote access. The hackers will get the notification that the device is plugged into a computer. Now it is up to the hackers, how they want to exploit the vulnerability for their personal gains. It can be used to spy on the user, lock the user out of the system, insert a keylogger, and various other threats that will be very harmful to the users.

Multidevice Attack

When your mobile or computer is compromised, it will transfer the malicious code to any other cable or USB device that will be connected to the device. No port, cable or even a file transfer will be safe anymore. You will become the carrier of a virus that you have zero knowledge about.

Disabling Attack

Many malwares uploaded through the charging device will lock the user out of their device. This will give full access to the attackers and now they can do anything they want with your device.

Now that we have learnt about the various types of juice jacking, we must also explore how we can keep ourselves protected. So, let's get straight to it.

How Can We Prevent Juice Jacking Attacks

To prevent yourself from Juice Jacking one should use a protective attachment called USB condom. It is a device which works as a filter that only allows charging of device. You will not be able to send or receive any data when you use a USB condom. It will be connected to your charging cable and will make sure that there is no flow of data between your device and the public charging station.

The working of a USB cable is quite simple, that is why it is so easy to use. As mentioned earlier in this blog, there are 5 pins in a USB device and only one of them is necessary for charging. A USB condom restricts all the pins except the one used for charging. No data transfer pin will establish a connection with your device protecting it from malicious attack.

However, it is always advised that you should not ever use a public charging station to charge your device. If you are someone who has to travel a lot, carrying your own charger is a much safer option. It might be hectic, but you will be assured that you are safe.

Be Safe, Be Protected

At Cyber Cops, we always make sure that we talk about the latest threats to our digital space. Juice Jacking is one such threat that is very common now a days. The idea of a free charging station might seem generous to anyone; however, we believe that nothing is free in this world. Free stuff comes with their own risks. All we want for our customers is to be safe and do not fall into the trap of Juice Jacking.

If you feel like you are affected by the attack, you can simply contact us, and we will provide you with the best resolution possible. As we always say, protecting you in the digital realm is our priority.

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