USB Drive

USB Drive

A researcher who goes by the name Dark Purple has demonstrated his new device: USB Killer 2.0.

The Russian researcher claims to have developed an USB stick that can physically damage a computer. The unnamed researcher once heard a story about a stolen USB stick that severely damaged a laptop after it was inserted.

He was so intrigued by the story that he decided to develop such an USB stick by his own, the so called USB Killer. The man allegedly works for a company that develops electronic equipment and ordered several PCBs for USB sticks in China.

Eventually he succeeded in making a prototype that uses a“negative voltage” which should make it possible to damage a computer.

Pictures or videos of burned or electrocuted devices lack unfortunately. On the internet several people have been criticized the claim. Some are wondering whether an USB stick can have enough current to cause a fire. The researcher has published a short description on how the USB Killer works but extensive schemes and drawings are missing. The developer does ask people whether they are interested in purchasing such an USB stick.

When plugged into a computer, the deadly USB draws power from the device itself. With the help of a voltage converter the device’s capacitors are charged to 220V, and it releases a negative electric surge into the USB port.

This surge “fries” the USB port and, in the researcher’s demonstration, the motherboard – perhaps not always after the first surge, but the malicious USB device repeats the process until no more power can be drawn.
He noted that it’s unlikely that the hard disk and the information on it was damaged.

“In my experience and testing, most systems have the USB 5v supply isolated from other supplies so the hard drive, cpu, memory and other components will still work, but the main board and itself is not going to boot again without replacing the PCH, power regulation, and several supporting components,” Joe Fitzpatrick, consultant and a researcher also said:

“Some newer platforms have the CPU and PCH in a single chip, I expect that the whole chip would be fried in that case. My reading of USB Killer 2.0 is that the -220V is applied to the USB data pins. This results in just the USB controller, again likely just the PCH, getting fried. It is less likely to harm the other components in the system.”

The attack is not limited to computers, he says. The device is able to incapacitate almost any equipment equipped with USB Host interface – phones, routers, modems, TVs, etc.

“The design for a USB killer is pretty simple for anyone familiar with power regulation circuitry, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s doable. But it’s probably a good thing no design details have been published,” concluded Fitzpatrick.

Dark Purple was also the creator of the first iteration of USB Killer, which pumped 110 volts into the target devices.

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