The FBI is warning against the use of public electronic device charging stations because criminals can plant malware and spy software on phones, tablets, and other items while their USB cords are plugged in. Separately, the Federal Trade Commission is warning that home security camera systems may put users at risk of “digital spying.”
Other federal agencies have also warned against using public phone charging stations due to the possibility of “juice jacking,” the surreptitious planting of software on devices while plugged into the charging stations. Officials said that criminals could use the secret program to access usernames, passwords, and other sensitive data.
Rather than using public stations, travelers should carry their own USB cord and plug and charge devices from a wall socket.
Regarding home security systems, the FTC is warning that many home camera systems are “vulnerable to digital spying.”
“Look for a camera that encrypts, or scrambles, your account information, livestreams, and archived videos so hackers can’t see them,” the agency suggested on its website. “Already have a camera? Find out what kind of encryption it has and how to turn it on.”
Most modern security systems allow users to view camera feeds remotely. Those systems rely on the home’s WiFi network, which should also be secured, the FTC said. It encourages users to use a strong password on home routers, activate the router’s firewall, and make sure the home wireless network is encrypted with WPA3 or WPA2.
Keeping the camera’s software up-to-date will ensure that that the latest security fixes are in place, minimizing the risk of unauthorized use.