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Key tips to prevent ‘juice jacking’ when you’re out and about

Have you ever heard of juice jacking? It’s when hackers install malicious code into public charging stations and steal data from your mobile devices or track them. The FBI considers the risk of juice jacking so high this summer that they suggest you completely avoid using public chargers in airports, hotels, and malls.

“Although ‘juice-jacking’ isn’t a new threat, the resurgence of this issue reminds us to think about the best ways to keep important information safe from cyber-attacks,” said Sharkirah Foote, an information security manager in the Office of Information Technology.

Many of us travel with one, two, or even three technology devices. A little security preparation can go a long way. “By developing good cyber safety habits and remaining vigilant, we can collectively keep both personal and university data better protected, no matter the threat,” said Foote.

Below are some key tips to prevent juice jacking and stay safe when you’re traveling this summer.

  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi to perform any sensitive transactions. Logging into social media, your bank, wallet, or other places where sensitive data is stored can open up your personal information to cybercriminals. It’s best to wait and do those things when you’re on a Wi-Fi connection you know and trust.
  • Keep your software up to date. One of the top causes of your information being compromised is outdated software. It can be tempting to click “later” when a software update pops up, but it’s important to install that update and add fixes for any known security vulnerabilities.
  • Carry either your own charger, cable, and wall outlet or bring a portable battery or battery case to charge your device from. It may be a few extra things to bring with you, but it’s worth it to stay cybersecure.
  • Turn off your Bluetooth when not in use. The tip to remember is if you’re not using it, turn it off. One little switch can help reduce the risk of cyber hacks.
  • Don’t leave your devices unattended. Even if you’re just running to the restroom, keep your phones, tablets, and laptops by your side or with someone you trust to avoid them getting in the wrong hands.
  • Be on the lookout for shoulder surfers. Consider it “stranger danger” cybersecurity style. Anyone could peer over your shoulder to try and take a peek at your personal data on your devices.

This story was originally published on May 2, 2023.

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