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USB drives have been known to carry viruses and malware, but a Russian electronics expert has now created a thumb drive that will literally fry your computer’s circuit board with a high voltage surge.
As reported by the Daily Mail, the “Killer USB” was created by a blogger under the alias of Dark Purple, who first posted details of the device in February. The Russian blog has since been translated to English-language by a different site, complete with pictures and a full technical explanation.
The device is designed to pull in power from USB ports using a DC-to-DC converter until it reaches negative 100 volts, at which point the power is pushed back into the computer to overload its components. This process is run on a loop so that “everything possible is broken down.”
“USB is typically integrated with the CPU in most modern laptops, which makes this attack very effective,” notes Hackaday. “The combination of high voltage and high current is enough to defeat the small TVS diodes on the bus lines and successfully fry some sensitive components — and often the CPU.”
Dark Purple is said to have come up with the idea after reading about somebody who had stolen a USB drive from a friend’s backpack, only to have half of his laptop “burnt down” when he inserted the device. Network World reports that the engineer then developed and ordered the circuit boards in China and made a prototype.
While sharing USB drives or plugging in any unfamiliar device is already considered dangerous, Dark Purple’s ‘killer USB’ is a further reminder of the potential threats, which could even do permanent damage to your computer’s electronics.
Author Kyle Ellison, ESET