Menu
Don't trust other people's USB flash drives, they could fry your laptop

Don't trust other people's USB flash drives, they could fry your laptop

A hardware enthusiast created a USB thumb drive that can discharge a high voltage into a computer's USB interface

Have you ever heard stories about malicious USB thumb drives frying laptops and thought they were far fetched? An electronics engineer heard them too, and then set out to create a prototype.

The "USB Killer" device was created by a do-it-yourself hardware enthusiast who described his project, complete with pictures and technical details, on a Russian blogging platform in February. An English-language version was posted on a different site earlier this week.

The malicious USB thumb drive uses an inverting DC-to-DC converter to draw power from the computer's USB port in order to charge a capacitor bank to -110 Volts (negative voltage). The power is then sent back into the USB interface via a transistor and the process is repeated in a loop.

"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," hardware hacking site Hackaday reports. "USB is typically integrated with the CPU in most modern laptops, which makes this attack very effective."

The creator of USB Killer, who uses the online alias Dark Purple, claims to work for a company that manufactures electronics and said that he ordered the custom printed circuit board and other components he needed for the project from China.

He allegedly got the idea to create the destructive device after hearing a story about a guy who stole a USB flash drive from someone's backpack on the subway and it fried his laptop when he plugged it in.

Security researchers have long warned about the security risks of inserting other people's USB drives into your PC, and even those from people you do trust. However if the threat of malware infections doesn't scare you enough to stop doing this, the possibility of electrical damage might.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Hackaday

Events

Featured

Slideshows

Channel kicks 2021 into gear as After Hours returns to Auckland

Channel kicks 2021 into gear as After Hours returns to Auckland

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar with a bumper crowd of partners, distributors and vendors descending on The Pantry at Park Hyatt in Auckland to kick-start 2021.

Channel kicks 2021 into gear as After Hours returns to Auckland
The Kiwi channel gathers for the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards

The Kiwi channel gathers for the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards

Hundreds of leaders from the New Zealand IT industry gathered at the Hilton in Auckland on 17 November to celebrate the finest female talent in the Kiwi channel and recognise the winners of the Reseller News Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) 2020.

The Kiwi channel gathers for the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards
Show Comments