Government warning: Do not use public USB ports to charge your smartphones

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The government has issued a warning to citizens to be careful when using public phone charging stations at places like airports, cafes, hotels and bus stands. The advice comes amid growing concerns over the “USB charger scam”, a tactic used by cybercriminals to exploit unsuspecting people who rely on these stations while on the move.

USB charger scams pose a significant risk, exploiting the trust of people who rely on public charging ports. Cybercriminals use a tactic called “juice-jacking” to compromise these ports and launch attacks on connected devices.

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What is 'juice-jacking'?

Through juice-jacking, hackers can steal sensitive data or plant malware on unsuspecting users' devices. When people connect their gadgets to compromised ports, they unknowingly expose themselves to potential data theft, malware installation or device hijacking.

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To protect against such threats, here are some proactive measures to consider:

1. Use electrical wall outlets or carry personal cables/power banks: Prefer traditional electrical outlets when available or bring your own charging cables or power banks to avoid using public USB stations.

2. Secure your device and avoid pairing with unknown devices: Implement device security features such as PIN or password locks and avoid connecting to unknown or untrusted devices to prevent unauthorized access or data compromise.

3. Consider charging your device when it's off: Charging devices while the power is off reduces exposure to external threats by reducing the risk of cyber attacks.

4. Update software: Update your smartphone software regularly to fix security flaws and protect against emerging threats.

5. Install malware detection software: Consider installing malware or virus detection software for added security against malicious attacks.

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What to do if you are a victim:

If you fall victim to a USB charging scam, report it immediately by calling 1930 or by filing a cyber fraud report at Taking immediate action to address any potential consequences of a scam is critical.

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