Smartphone Juice Jacking: Risks and Prevention Methods

May 7, 2021

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the risks of what’s known as juice jacking in the phone industry. This practice, which involves including malicious code or malware in public USB chargers in an attempt to steal user data, can luckily be prevented or avoided in some simple ways for those who regularly charge their phones in public places like airports or hotels. At FixIT Mobile, we’re here to not only provide robust phone repair services, but also provide expertise to all our clients on ideal phone usage and protection, including in this area. Here are some basics on the overall risks of juice jacking, whether you’re at a high risk, and what you can do to prevent it.

Overall Risk

If you’ve read up to this point, you’re probably wondering what level of risk you face for juice jacking and related concerns. Is it something you should worry about anytime you’re in a public place?

To a degree, yes. Juice jacking can take place anywhere. However, as we’ll go over in just a moment, there are several basic precautions and techniques you can take that will allow you to use public charging stations without any fear of hacking or related issues. As long as you’re taking these seriously and being diligent, there’s no reason to fear juice jacking. And of course, if you’re someone who doesn’t spend much time in public places or doesn’t usually need to charge their phone during the day, this will be a very limited or nonexistent risk to you.

Business Travelers

One particular group we wanted to mention here, however is business travelers. These are people who spend lots of time in airports and on planes, and public charging is a common need for them. If you’re one of these people, you should have a basic knowledge of juice jacking and the risks to watch out for, plus a working idea of how to prevent these risks – which we’ll go over in our next section.

Precautions and Prevention Methods

Here are several ways to ensure you’re never at-risk of juice jacking, even if you’re charging your phone in a public place:

  • Built-in protection: First and foremost, those who own iPhones already have protection from juice jacking within their device. Anyone with such a phone who has charged it in any external area will be familiar with the “Trust This Computer?” prompt that appears when any device is asking for access to data on your phone – it requires entry of your passcode to allow this connection. Simply put, if this prompt ever comes up while you’re charging in a public place, you should click No and consider unplugging.

  • USB data blocker dongle: This is a separate product you can purchase that will disable data transfer on USB cables, limiting them to charging capabilities only. Many business travelers purchase these to completely avoid juice jacking risks.

  • Personal adaptor: Many purchase their own AC charging adaptor and cables, or a portable battery and battery case so they do not have to rely on public charging.

  • Quality battery: Others will even carry an extra phone battery so they do not have to worry about charging.

For more on smartphone juice jacking and how to avoid it, or to learn about any of our phone repair, tablet repair or other device repair services, speak to the staff at FixIT Mobile today.