The FBI field office in Denver is cautioning against individuals using public USB charging stations that hackers could exploit to introduce malware into their devices.

In a tweet, the agency specifically warned against using charging stations found in places such as airports, hotels, or shopping centers.

“Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices,” said the agency. “Carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead.”

This type of practice is commonly referred to as “juice jacking” – when an individual unknowingly is targeted with spyware and malware through the use of a public USB charging stations – the FBI said.

“Take care to avoid ‘juice jacking’ – plugging devices into compromised public USB charging stations can open the door to malware or theft of personal data,” said the Army Cyber Command on its own Twitter posting.

Army Cyber Command warned that that tell-tale signs that an individual’s device has been compromised due to juice jacking include if the device that consumes more battery power than usual, if it operates at a slower rate, and if it crashes more frequently due to “abnormal data usage.”

“The bottom line: Be cautious where you charge your electronic device. Public charging stations at airports, hotels and restaurants are a prime target for cybercriminals to juice jack,” the Army Cyber Command said.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.