Keep mobile devices cyber safe

  • Published
  • By Col. Anthony Bellione, Director, Cyber Operations AFDW
  • AFDW

Did you know that cybercriminals and hackers are always thinking up clever new ways to exploit your devices? Cybercrime damages are forecast to cost $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, and there were 153 million malware examples from March 2021 to February 2022[i]. In this article, we'll share some of the most alarming methods cybercriminals use and explain how to stay safe. Read on to learn more.

While you may be familiar with malware threats that target your computer or mobile device, you might not be aware of malware threats that hide in plain sight. USB cables used to charge your phone can pose a severe risk to government and individual users alike. Criminals hide mini-computers and malware inside the USB cable itself. "Smart" USB threats can conduct ransomware attacks, steal user credentials, log keystrokes, and compromise sensitive information. A best practice is to keep your devices up-to-date with the latest security patches and avoid using unauthorized, non-OEM USB devices. However, the USB threat does not stop there.

Are you aware that those nifty free USB power charging stations in the airport may have a hidden danger? Airport charging stations are convenient, but they also come with a vulnerability that hackers could exploit to cause havoc. Hackers use these power charging stations installed in public places to carry out "juice jacking" activities. Cybersecurity specialists have warned of juice jacking since 2011; however, the number of reported attacks is increasing year over year. Next time you are at a public USB charging station, consider the fact that hackers can use USB stations to load malware onto your device. If you want to stay safe and protected from a potential hacker attack, plug your device into a known charger and use a known cable. Now that you know a few things to keep in mind regarding hacking, stay safe by practicing good cyber hygiene. Follow these five simple guidelines:

1. Avoid using USB charging stations. Use an AC energy outlet instead.

2. Bring AC chargers and your own USB cables when traveling.

3. Consider a portable charger or external battery.

4. Use a data blocker device such as Sync Stop or Juice-Jack Defender that prevents data syncing.

5. Back up your data regularly to make it less vulnerable to ransomware attacks.

Cybercriminals can do a tremendous amount of damage accessing your personal information and computer systems. Hackers can steal your money, ruin your reputation, and even put your safety at risk. Be sure to practice the best cyber hygiene and security measures to protect yourself from these nefarious actors.