The number of charging stations at airports, bus stops, metro stations and other public places in Russia has been growing rapidly in recent years. However, using such USB-inputs is not safe because attackers can access data stored in the phone or download malware through them. Today in Moscow you can charge your gadgets at airports and train stations, in metro trains, buses, at public transport stops, and in shopping and entertainment centers.
According to Sergey Nikitin, Deputy head of Group-IB, standard USB cables contain four wires: two for data transfer and two for charging. The problem is that hackers embed a special device in the charging wire, or add a small computer to the charger itself. When people connect a gadget to charge, they connect it to some other device.
“Attackers can thus gain access to your device,” said the expert. Nikitin gave an example of one of these attacks: a small computer sends malicious code to the gadget, runs it, and so the hacker gains access to the data of the smartphone. An expert at Jet Infosystems Georgy Starostin noted that cybercriminals can download photos from victim’s phones for blackmail or infect the device with a virus.
According to him, charging stations in public places carry other risks, the company providing the service can also install additional equipment. According to him, this way it will collect user data for further analysis and sale to advertisers.
The Avast press service said that information is transferred via USB ports in the same way as to the computer. If there are any vulnerabilities in the USB phone software, hackers can gain full control of the connected phone.
Experts advised users to try to avoid charging stations in public places. Avast offered to buy a portable power supply for charging the gadget or USB cables in which the data wires are removed.