People’s obsession with destroying things has been taking off quite remarkably in the recent year. We have seen people pouring molten metal on their hard-drives and shooting a dozen holes in their laptops just for the fun of it. Now another more subtle yet equally destructive and cringe worthy device called “USB Killer” has been launched which claims that it can fry almost any computer in seconds beyond redemption.
The USB destroys the inner circuitry by using its capacitor to store charge from the USB port. Once the capacitor is fully charged, then it repeatedly discharges 240V into the host device until it is completely fried.
The whole process only takes mere seconds, which makes it all the more dangerous and prone to be used for vandalism. The “USB Killer” was originally aimed to be a proof of concept for security researchers and folks to make them wary of high voltage attacks. But now that the USB Killer has become a commercially available product, it is raising some eyebrows with regards to posing grave security risks.
The makers of the device stated in a recent promotional video that “Over 95 percent of devices are affected by a USB power surge attack in our recent tests. Almost all consumer-level hardware fails when tested against the USB Kill. The most frequent outcome is the complete destruction of the device (laptops, tv, telephones, etc). Almost all consumer-level hardware fails when tested against the USB Kill. Apparently, the only products against which the tiny USB stick is not effective against are those made by Apple.”
For now, an independent Hong-Kong-based company specialising in security and audit hardware are being credited to be the makers of this device, though their true identity under the wraps.
While the USB killer is a good device to raise awareness in the manufacturers and the customers about this grave danger, it is also a potential point of exploitation for the malicious people. Commercialising the device seems to do just that, although the company emphasises that they are fully responsible for their actions.
The company is also selling a Test Shield that aims to neutralise the risk of the USB killer, as it attaches to the dangerous stick and makes it safe to insert into a USB port. The company calls it “USB condoms” that forbid the USB Killer to access the data lines within a USB port. Talk about creating a problem to sell a solution afterwards!
For now, vigilance and care are the only practical option you have in order to avoid an attack from this dangerous USB. Watch the video below where the creators flaunt frying a fully working laptop within seconds:
Have you seen one of these USBs around you? How wary does this make you? Let us know in the comments’ section below!