Don't Get 'Juice Jacked' While Recharging In Public, Cybersecurity Expert Warns

Do you plug your phone into free public charging stations? Be careful! According to NBC News, you may get 'juice jacked' by hackers who have installed malware that can tunnel and copy your sensitive personal information!

Cybersecurity expert Jim Stickley demonstrates how a hacker could access a person's phone through a public charging station.NBC News

"Depending on the vulnerability they exploit, they would have access to everything you would have access to on your phone," according to cybersecurity expert Jim Stickley.

The practice, known as "juice jacking," occurs when people plug in to "juice" up their phones and hackers use malware in the charging station or USB cable to "jack" their information, such as phone numbers and passwords.

The scam has prompted local authorities, including the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, to alert the public to think twice about plugging in at places like airports or malls. -NBC News

Stickley showed NBC News how easy the practice is, setting up a simulation at the Port of San Diego in which he set up a homemade charging station which allowed him to watch and record everything being shows on the screen of an actively charging phone.

"Now we get to the best part. She's actually entering in her credit card number," Stickley said of NBC News correspondent Vicky Nguyen's phone after she volunteered to be the first victim.

In four hours, dozens of people stopped at the makeshift charging station to power up their phones. Some expressed shock when they were told it was a setup.

A woman who identified herself as Ruth gave NBC News permission to access her phone through the charging station and demonstrate the type of information being retrieved from her device. In a matter of seconds, her personal Facebook messages popped up on a separate monitor. -NBC News

"You might have seen a public USB charging station at an airport or shopping center. But be warned, a free charge could end up draining your bank account," according to Los Angeles Deputy DA Luke Sisak in a November video warning.

"Most people assume their computers can be hacked," said Stickley, adding "Most people assume their phones can't."

"Having access to your email has become very valuable, because, if you think about it, every account you have requires access to your email, he said. "Everybody's login is your email, and that's the problem."