B1 Intermediate US 134 Folder Collection
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Much of what happens at airports tends to feel vaguely illegal if not explicitly so.
After all, where else in the world can TSA agents grope you with abandon, baggage handlers
receive unrestricted access to your luggage or stores charge you prices so high there's
a good chance you'll come down with altitude sickness?
But on top of the over-the-top fees, underhanded luggage handlers, and handsy TSA agents, there's
yet another far less obvious threat you have to worry about at airports: the USB ports.
It turns out that the seemingly harmless activity of charging your smartphone at a public kiosk
can leave you vulnerable to cyber crime.
So what's the problem?
In a couple of words: "juice jacking."
"Speak English, doc, we ain't scientists!"
Now, juice jacking may sound like a particularly seductive way to squeeze an orange, but really,
it's a whole different kind of naughty.
How-to Geek explains that because your smartphones use the same USB cable for charging and transmitting
data, hackers can access information on your phone or upload malware via the USB port while
you're charging your device.
Hence, they're hijacking your phone as it replenishes its energy, or "juice".
And unfortunately, juice jacking isn't all that difficult or time-consuming for hackers
to do.
Speaking at a BlackHat security conference in 2016, researchers Billy Lau, YeongJin Jang,
and Chengyu Song described:
"We demonstrate how an iOS device can be compromised within one minute of being plugged into a
malicious charger.
We show how an attacker can hide their software in the same way Apple hides its own built-in
These three researchers had previously built a juice jacking device out of a small computer
known as a BeagleBoard, which can be purchased for as little as $45, showing just how easily
a sufficiently shrewd hacker could give themselves the means to get inside your phone.
Alarmingly, a BeagleBoard is just about small enough to fit right inside a USB hub or charging
To make matters worse, even after you've unplugged your device from the compromised cable, the
kiosk you just used to recharge your iPhone can retain a Wi-Fi connection with your disconnected
iOS device.
That means that once a hacker has gotten a foot in the door, they could potentially open
the electronic floodgates.
How-to Geek calls juice jacking "a largely theoretical threat" with "a very low" probability
of occurring at an airport kiosk you might use.
But the Vice President of X-Force Threat Intelligence at IBM Security, Caleb Barlow, has warned
"Plugging into a public USB port is kind of like finding a toothbrush on the side of the
road and deciding to stick it in your mouth.
You have no idea where that thing has been."
To protect your phone from being broken into by malicious airside parties, Barlow recommends
investing in a device called a Juice-Jack Defender, which is a kind of protective dongle
you put in front of your charging cord.
Similarly, Harvard University's Bruce Schneier suggests using the so-called USB Condom when
charging your phone at airport kiosks.
Alternatively, you could pack a portable battery or personal charger, and avoid using the charging
kiosk altogether.
In case you take your chances with an airport kiosk and want to use protection, Krebs on
Security reviewed the Juice-Jack Defender and the USB Condom, both of which are designed
to thwart would-be juice jackers.
Describing the devices as "prophylactics," Krebs notes that both are equipped "with male
and female USB adapters at either end" and are functionally "indistinguishable" despite
"slight" differences in size, shape, and texture.
But that's not to say they're totally identical.
According to Krebs, the Juice-Jack Defender is a little smaller than the USB Condom, but
what it lacks in size, it makes up for in durability.
Meanwhile, however, the USB Condom seemed a bit more likely to stop working altogether.
So while these two devices do have a few minor differences, these seem to be mostly negligible,
and each should prove effective in ensuring that your phone won't come down with a nasty
virus next time you're hanging out at the airport.
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Why You Should Avoid Airport USB Charging Stations

134 Folder Collection
Helena published on November 26, 2019    陳明頤 translated    Evangeline reviewed
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