The National Consumers League warns against charging phones in public venues such as trains, cafés, and other public spaces.

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Nigerians have been warned by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) about newly detected hacks on Android devices in public locations.

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Through its Cyber Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), the commission discovered vulnerabilities that hackers exploit to get unauthorised access to devices at public charging stations.

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The first is known as Juice Jacking, and it involves gaining access to users’ devices while charging their phones at public charging stations. It affects all mobile phones. The other vulnerability is a Facebook for Android Friend Acceptance Vulnerability, which exclusively affects Android users.

 

Juice Jacking allows attackers to get unauthorized access to unsuspecting mobile phone users’ devices when they charge their phones at public charging stations, according to the CSIRT security advisory 0001.

 

In order to improve customer service, many public venues, restaurants, shops, and even public trains provide complimentary services, one of which is providing charging connections or sockets. An attacker, on the other hand, can take advantage of this kindness by loading a payload in the charging station or on the cords they’d leave plugged in at the stations.

 

The payload is automatically downloaded onto the victims’ phones when they plug their phones into the charging station or the wire left by the attacker. This payload then grants the attacker remote access to the phone, enabling them to monitor data sent as text or audio via the microphone.

If the victim’s camera isn’t covered, the assailant can view them in real time. The attacker also has full access to the gallery and the phone’s location via the Global Positioning System (GPS).

 

When an attacker gains remote access to a user’s mobile phone, he breaches confidentiality, violates data integrity, and bypasses authentication mechanisms. Symptoms of an attack include a sudden increase in battery use, device performance that is slower than usual, apps that take a long time to launch and then crash often, and unusual data usage.

The NCC-CSIRT, on the other hand, suggested avoiding Universal Serial Bus (USB) data connection by utilizing a “charging only USB cable,” using one’s AC charging adaptor in public spaces, and not extending trust to portable devices prompting for USB data connection.

 

Other anti-Juice Jacking measures include installing antivirus software and keeping it up to date with the latest definitions; keeping mobile devices up to date with the latest patches; using one’s own power bank; charging in public places with one’s own charger; and using one’s own charger if one must charge in public.

According to the NCC-CSIRT Advisory 0001, Facebook for Android is vulnerable to a permission vulnerability that allows anyone with physical access to the device to accept friend requests without having to unlock it. Android OS versions 329.0.0.29.120 are among those affected.

 

The attacker will be able to add the victim as a friend and obtain personal information such as the victim’s email, date of birth, check-ins, mobile phone number, address, pictures, and other information that the victim may have provided, which will only be available to the victim’s friends.

Users should disable the feature from their device’s lock screen notification settings to protect themselves from the Facebook-related vulnerability, according to NCC-security CSIRT’s advice.

 

The NCC-CSIRT was established in October 2021 to provide guidance and direction to constituents on issues relating to the security of critical infrastructure in their possession, as well as to assess, review, and collate the threat landscape, risks, and opportunities affecting the communications sector on a regular basis in order to provide advice to relevant stakeholders.

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