FBI and FCC Caution Against “Juice Jacking” at Public USB Charging Stations

Sophia Taylor

By Sophia Taylor


The term “Juice Jacking” might sound made-up, but it represents a real cybersecurity threat according to the FBI. Juice Jacking is where criminals make use of public USB charging ports as a way to upload malware to unsuspecting smartphone owners.

This potential risk at free USB charging stations, such as those found in hotel lobbies and airports, has prompted several warnings from the FBI over recent years.

Despite these cautions, both the FBI and the FCC have acknowledged that there are, as yet, no documented instances of Juice Jacking occurring in real-world scenarios.

Should You Worry About Juice Jacking?

The likelihood of falling victim to Juice Jacking in the U.S. is currently low, given the absence of confirmed cases. However, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and caution is still advisable.

The FBI’s Baltimore field office underscored this caution by highlighting the threat on its official X social media account. The agency advised against using freely available USB charging stations, not only in airports but in any public space.

The FCC’s Recommendations for Safe Charging

Concerns about malware-infected phones being remotely locked or personal data being stolen and sold are significant enough that the FCC recommends avoiding public USB ports altogether. Instead, they suggest using an AC power outlet or carrying a portable battery pack for recharging needs while traveling.

For those who must use a USB outlet, the FCC advises investing in a “charging-only” cable. These cables are designed to prevent any data exchange during the charging process, thereby enhancing your device’s security. However, it is crucial to purchase these cables from reliable and trusted suppliers to avoid counterfeits.

What Phone Manufacturers Are Doing

Fortunately, technological advancements have not stood still. Major tech companies like Apple and Samsung have been proactive in making their devices less susceptible to such risks.

Most modern devices now prompt users to select their preferred connection mode—be it “share data,” “trust this computer,” or “charge only.” Choosing “charge only” is a simple yet effective step to safeguard your personal data when you must use a public charging station.


While Juice Jacking poses a theoretical risk, the practical threat remains low. Awareness and simple precautions can significantly mitigate the risk of data theft. Always prioritize using power sources like AC outlets or battery packs, and when in doubt, opt for a charging-only cable from a trusted source. Remember, in the realm of cybersecurity, being informed is your first line of defense.