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A Russian security researcher has developed a more powerful “USB killer”, which has double the power of its original predecessor.
Dark Purple, as he is known, revealed that the latest version can “fry” a computer within seconds of being inserted into a USB port.
The customized device works by transmitting a negative 220-volt charge into the signal lines of the USB port, which then destroys the motherboard.
In the example documented by Dark Purple – see video below – the laptop is shown to be completely incapacitated after the payload is delivered.“The USB killer is not limited to computers, as the device can incapacitate almost any equipment equipped with a USB host interface.”
“The [USB killer] is not limited to computers, as the device can incapacitate almost any equipment equipped with a USB host interface,” the expert was keen to outline.
While this development certainly highlights the importance of being cautious when it comes to examining an unknown USB stick, there is some consolation.
Dark Purple went on to say that the damage wrought by the device is so far limited to the motherboard.
He has since ordered a replacement for the damaged tech, explaining that in spite of the electric blast, it is unlikely that the hard drive and the information on it have been affected.
Writing on the “community-driven collaborative blog ”Kukuruku earlier this year, Dark Purple explained how he first came up with the idea.
He said he was inspired by a story about a man stealing a USB drive from someone’s backpack. Upon inserting it into his laptop, “he burnt half of it down”.
“The basic idea of the USB drive is quite simple,” Dark Purple elaborated at the time. “When we connect it up to the USB port, an inverting DC/DC converter runs and charges capacitors to -110V. When the voltage is reached, the DC/DC is switched off.
“At the same time, the field transistor opens. It is used to apply the -110V to signal lines of the USB interface. When the voltage on capacitors increases to -7V, the transistor closes and the DC/DC starts. The loop runs till everything possible is broken down.”
Author Karl Thomas, ESET