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Cyber security

Cyber security in focus: The vulnerability of the USB port

2 min read

​​​​You are sitting at the airport and your cell phone battery is running low. "Well, no movie on the plane then" you think, but then you see a charging station, perfect! You plug in your mobile and can enjoy the movie on the plane. What you do not know, is that now your device might be infected with a virus or malware.

At Saab, we constantly handle information that is critical to our customers, and sometimes is a matter of national security. During October, EU’s official cyber security month, we focus on the increasing cyber security challenges and provide guidance through a series of articles covering different cyber security issues. This is the third and final article, you find the first one here.

Juice jacking

Regardless of whether you have an Android, Iphone or BlackBerry, they have one thing in common: Charging and data transfer takes place via the same cable. The two biggest risks with Juice jacking are:

​Data theft

If an antagonist has compromised a charging port, it is easy to use a crawler or spider to retrieve all the sensitive information you store on the phone.

​Malware installation

Antagonists can infect your device with malware, which in turn can retrieve all the information you have on your cell phone. The antagonist freezes the mobile and demands payment to unlock it.

How you can protect yourself against juice jacking

  • Avoid public charging stations and portable wall chargers.
  • Try to plan in advance what your charging situation will look like, charge your mobile at work, in the car or at home when you are not using it.
  • If you have to charge your phone, use a wall outlet.
  • Data cannot be transferred from a regular AC wall socket. Make sure you bring a trusted adapter.

Use software security measures

Always lock your phone so that it cannot be connected to a connected device. Even if your phone is turned off, the USB port may still be connected to the storage on your phone.

Use alternative methods to charge your phone

External batteries, wireless charging or power banks. These are devices you can charge at home and take with you on the trip.

Use a data blocker

​A data blocker allows the phone to charge but disables the data transfer. The phone is charging, but data is not being transferred.