Using public Wi-Fi is known to be a terrible idea that can lead to personal data being intercepted, read, or stolen by hackers. PrivadoVPN will protect your data by encrypting your traffic and creating your own private network over public Wi-Fi. Most people are aware of the perils of public Wi-Fi, but few actually take the obvious precautions of using a VPN to protect themselves. Using a VPN at all times is a recommended best practice for all types of networks. 

Another free service we encourage our users to avoid is public charging stations for their mobile devices. Every airport, hotel, major city, and business center offers publicly available USB charging stations for people to charge their mobile phones. A low battery warning on a mobile phone sends most people racing for the nearest wall outlet or charging station. Towards the end of 2019, the Los Angeles District Attorney in California released a security alert, advising travelers to avoid using public USB power charging stations as they were compromised with malware. 

Smartphones are nearly present in everyone’s hands. Typically, mobile handsets rely on USB or USB-C connectors to transfer both power and data on a single cable. The single point of connectivity for both power and data transfers lead InfoSec and security researchers to create proofs such as Mactans and KeySweeper. The term “Juice Jacking” was coined by Brian Krebs prior to the two proofs referenced above, but it is only recently that it has been receiving mainstream coverage. Juice jacking is designated as a cyberattack that involves a compromised data connection masking as a simple charging port. 

Currently, there have been no publicly reported cases of USB malware, but we believe it is only a matter of time before a major airport or hotel is compromised. Edward Snowden revealed the NSA used Juice Jacking as a technique to conduct their surveillance. However, the public shouldn’t be concerned with James Bond and Mission Impossible-type scenarios involving USB malware. The reality is that hackers are more likely to use USB malware to target everyday people in order to steal personally identifiable information (PII) to be used for financial theft or sold for marketing campaigns. 

How to protect yourself? 

Firstly, stay away from public charging stations that utilize a USB plug. Carrying an external charging station is the most convenient and easiest way to recharge your phone without the concern of Juice Jacking. If you have to charge your phone while in transit inside an airport, we recommend carrying universal adapters or even external power banks. Data transfers cannot take place through an electrical plug and socket. If there are no other options and you are on the road, consider picking up a book and putting the phone down. It’s one thing if you are working to meet a deadline, but quite another if you simply need the additional battery to scroll through Instagram or watch a TikTok clip. Your life will not be struck if you miss your favorite social media feed for a few hours. Your brain and psyche will benefit, and plus, we know your personal data and privacy will be much safer.

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