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FBI issues urgent warning against public phone chargers

Just because it’s a free charge doesn’t necessarily mean it’s free; it could end up costing you your digital identity and more.

A group is sitting in a room.

The FBI is warning consumers to avoid using free public charging stations because hackers have found a way to infect devices with malware.

That’s right, your phone, tablet, or computer could be at risk if you plug in at an airport, hotel, or shopping center.

The FBI’s Denver field office tweeted, “Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices.”

Yikes! The solution? Carry your own charger and USB cord, and use an electrical outlet instead.

This isn’t a new threat, folks. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been warning about “juice jacking,” the technical term for this sneaky malware loading scheme, since 2021.

Compromised USB cables can lead to stolen usernames and passwords. Not cool, hackers.

What is Juice Jacking?

Juice jacking is a hacking technique designed to steal your sensitive information without you even realizing it.

Here’s how it works: cybercriminals install malware onto public charging stations, waiting for unsuspecting victims to plug in their phones and charge up.

According to Norton, “If someone’s checking on the other end, they may be able to move data between your device and theirs.”

Once connected, the malware springs into action, stealing your personal data, login credentials, and other sensitive info. It’s a fast and easy way for hackers to gain access to your digital life.

Fbi messaging apps
Image: KnowTechie

So, it’s not surprising that the FBI and FCC both advise against using public charging stations.

While the FBI didn’t cite any recent cases of consumer harm from juice jacking, cybersecurity analysts from Honeywell Forge reported (via PCMag) that 79% of USB cyberattacks could disrupt operational technology, and 51% can grant remote access to an infected device.

Remember, bringing your own charger and avoiding these public charging stations is always better.

Just because it’s a free charge doesn’t necessarily mean it’s free; it could end up costing you your digital identity and more.

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Kevin is KnowTechie's founder and executive editor. With over 15 years of blogging experience in the tech industry, Kevin has transformed what was once a passion project into a full-blown tech news publication. Shoot him an email at or find him on Mastodon or Post.

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