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Crime

Cyber Security Expert: ‘No Evidence’ Behind FBI Warning Against USB Ports

“This one is kind of like the ‘drugs in Halloween candy’ of cybersecurity.”

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A noted cybersecurity expert has claimed that the recent “juice jacking” media scare based on an FBI warning has “no evidence” to back it up.

Last week, the FBI office in Denver released a warning online that people should avoid using the free USB charging ports in public places, such as airports, hotels, or shopping centres. “Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices,” they said.

The practice, which is known as “juice jacking,” could be prevented by using your own charger and USB cord, and connecting to a normal electrical outlet, instead of a USB plug, the FBI Denver office advised.

The FCC issued a similar warning on Twitter this week. “Think twice before using public charging stations,” the FCC said. “Hackers could be waiting to gain access to your personal information by installing malware and monitoring software to your devices.” On their website, they even claimed that free charging cables could be compromised by hackers.

The term “juice jacking” was coined in 2011, after cybersecurity researchers proved that such a hack was theoretically possible.

Following the post from the FBI and FCC, mainstream media accounts jumped on the story, such as CBS, ABC, The Guardian, Sky News, and others, with some declaring that the FBI warning was “urgent,” telling viewers and readers that bad actors had not only figured out how to use the ports, but “are” currently using them, “to steal your personal info.”

However, Marcus Hutchins, a British cybersecurity expert, most well-known for stopping the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017, posted a video to social media, decrying the warning as like “the ‘drugs in Halloween candy’ of cybersecurity.”

“I’ve seen warning after warning about this attack, but I’ve never seen a single shred of evidence of a real attack occurring in real life,” Hutchins said. While he noted that it is “technically possible” to pull off, it’s “quite unreliable,” and argued that there was no real reason for a hacking doing so.

“Typically, when hackers hack someone’s phone they go after a specific victim, just like hacking random people’s phones is not particularly useful,” he concluded. “So it is something that could happen, in theory, but I think it’s pretty unrealistic, and all of these warnings are based on no evidence whatsoever.”

@malwaretech

#stitch with @photogsteve81 Fun fact: this warning is based on an FCC warning thats based on an FBI warning thats based on a police warning thats based on nothing whatsoever

♬ original sound – Marcus Hutchins

Hutchins even claimed in a comment that the FBI had told a journalist that they had no case reports of “juice jacking” ever taking place. An FBI official confirmed to Snopes that they had not seen any rise in complaints of the supposed practice.

In fact, when the Los Angeles District Attorney made similar warnings about juice jacking in 2019, TechCrunch reported that they also had “no cases” of it ever happening on their books, and quoted other cybersecurity experts who said that they had never seen “any evidence of malware being used in the wild on these things.”

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Jack Hadfield
Written By

Jack Hadfield is the Associate Editor at Valiant News. An investigative reporter from the UK, and the director and presenter of "Destination Dover: Migrants in the Channel, his work has appeared in such sites as Breitbart and The Political Insider. You can follow him on Gab @JH, on Telegram @JackHadders, or see his other social media by visiting jackhadfield.co.uk.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    CPO Bill

    April 15, 2023 at 9:27 am

    If anyone is spying and stealing, its those crooked cocksuckers!

  2. Avatar

    Bluefish123

    April 15, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    Can’t believe anything from the FBI.

  3. Avatar

    Cyber Pro

    April 15, 2023 at 8:02 pm

    I have worked at multiple Federal Agencies in the Metro Washington DC area in all three Branches of the U. S. Government and several private entities, doing Cybersecurity. I also worked at FBI Washington D.C. Office as a Cybersecurity Consultant. I have never seen a more insecure enclave in my 30 years of cybersecurity. The attitude of the FBI is no one would dare attempt an incursion of their systems and the convenience of the FBI is paramount.

    The truth is everyone, hostile and not so hostile, has penetrated and established a presence on thier network. The FBI network is completely compromised.

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