News: The Cheap USB Kill Stick That Destroys Any Computer You Want

The Cheap USB Kill Stick That Destroys Any Computer You Want

There are two types of bad USBs out there. One lets you trick the computer into thinking it's a keyboard or other USB device, and the other goes straight over malicious into computer killing territory.

Last year, Russian security researcher Dark Purple designed a USB stick that uses high voltage to fry a computer system, or at least, the USB port. Now a Hong-Kong-based company has turned that concept into an actual $50 product that anyone can buy, dubbed the USB Killer.

When plugged into a device, the USB Killer rapidly charges its capacitors from the USB power lines. When the device is charged, -200VDC is discharged over the data lines of the host device. This charge/discharge cycle is repeated many times per second, until the USB Killer is removed.

The company states that pretty much any computer or device with a USB port is at risk of a power surge attack, including photo booths, copy machines, gaming consoles... you get the picture. However, they claim that the only systems to defeat its viciousness were newer MacBook models, which isolate the data lines (but we wouldn't recommend testing that claim out). You can see it in action below.

The company is also offering a USB Killer Tester for $14 (though it's half off with the purchase of a USB Killer), which lets you test out the USB Killer without damaging a computer or USB port. This shield can help make sure the USB Killer is still functional, and can even help test out your own portable DIY kill drives.

This USB shield can also protect against "juice jacking," where hackers can steal data from your smartphone when connected to a computer or random power station.

While a computer may not literally catch on fire, it'll be relatively useless after a power surge attack. The company does not condone malicious activity, but it's likely an evil prankster or two will create a path of destruction that will seriously hurt people's wallets.

Cover image via USB Killer/YouTube

5 Comments

It's really not all that impressive, people have been using surge devices for years to sabotage servers and database facilities, all they've done now is make it more portable, it's really not that hard to make a power surge happen, and anyone can figure out that a USB port would be linked to the motherboard and thus the power supply. I really like the portability and convenience of it though.

would it be useful just once? or could I recharge it?

It attacks hardware. That is purely electric and is not much more effective except for pulling pranks. What you would want is to insert a virus into a USB and then have another USB made for the DP style. So you could insert a virus with USB one, then with USB 2 you would follow p with the shock. The shock would fry only one computer or a USB port. Virus could spread to damage the software. So after the Virus wrecks the software on the entire server or the computer then you follow it up with the electric USB. So that is how to take care of both the software and the hardware, in that order.

Hah, how clever. Disguising this and planting it near a target computer you want to destroy is smart. A layperson would think they'd inserted a computer virus and waste time trying to fix the computer software when it was just fried.

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