Computer-zapping USB drives now on sale for $50
As if virus-laden USB drives weren’t enough to pose as a security threat, a new kind of USB device has entered the market that can literally fry any system that it gets connected to. Best of all, it’s plug and play.
ExtremeTech reports that the drive costs $50 and is being sold by a Hong Kong-based company, which describes it thus:
“The USB Kill 2.0 is a testing device created to test USB ports against power surge attacks. The USB Kill 2.0 tests your device’s resistance against this attack. The USB Kill collects power from the USB power lines (5V, 1 – 3A) until it reaches ~ -240V, upon which it discharges the stored voltage into the USB data lines. This charge/discharge cycle is very rapid and happens multiple times per second. The process of rapid discharging will continue while the device is plugged in, or the device can no longer discharge – that is, the circuit in the host machine is broken.”
Firing -200V into the USB controller via the drive will typically cause critical damage to modern SoCs and can even lead to total destruction. It should also be noted that while modern motherboards have built-in overcurrent protection systems, it only protects against positive voltage.
The same company also plans to sell a USB Kill Tester Shield as a preventive measure against the USB Kill device and other intrusive activities called “juice jacking” when charging from a charging station or other devices.
Studies have indicated that 50 percent of the time, people are more than happy to plug in a found USB device into their systems without even considering the dangers. While it’s unlikely that a USB Killer will just be lying around somewhere given its price tag, it does send a good message to always be wary of what you plug into your computer. Alfred Bayle
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