The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) has warned the public to be vigilant when charging their smartphones in public, saying hackers might modify charging cables to skim phone owners’ personal information.
According to a CIB Facebook post on Monday, hackers can use remote access points to control a skimming chip that is embedded in every type of charger port.
The chip can be used by hackers to skim personal information from smartphones, including passwords, financial data, and bank account numbers, or to infect them with malware.
People who need to charge their phones in public should be cautious when borrowing a stranger’s charger or connecting their charger to public charging ports, the post read.
The concern about hacking cables surfaced after a Jan 8 post made on a personal Facebook page of a netizen only going by the name of Widsanusawan, who claimed that he lost 101,560 baht from a bank account after charging his phone in public.
Widsanusawan said that he got notifications from the bank about the transactions being made, which he did not carry out, from his account after charging the phone in public. He said he found an unknown application on his phone, which he suspected to be the app the hacker used for data skimming.
Netizens suspected that the hacker might have used the charging port and cable to help with data skimming, as Widsanusawan insisted that he never downloaded or visited any unknown website.
Meanwhile, experts have weighed in on hacking charger concerns.
Parinya Homanek, a member of the National Cybersecurity Committee, said the hacking incident could have occurred but noted that there had been no other cases reported so far in the country.
Mr Parinya said that such hacking, mostly on Android phones, can happen after the victims visit malware-embedded commercial banners or downloaded applications outside official application stores.
An unnamed IT expert, however, said that hacking charging cables are sold illegally online and cost at least 5,000 baht. They are mostly used for online investigations, he added.