A Russian computer researcher has developed what he calls the ‘USB Killer 2.0’ – a modified USB stick capable of frying the innards of any computer it’s plugged in to.
A demonstration video shows a perfectly functioning laptop having the USB Killer plugged in.
In just a couple of seconds, the screen goes blank, the lights turn off, and the laptop is broken – the man in the video tries his best to get it working again, but to no avail.
The device reportedly works by drawing power from the USB ports and using a converter until negative voltage is achieved.
The power is then directed back into the computer, with the process looping until the machine’s circuitry fries.
It’s likely that the USB port the Killer is plugged in to is destroyed, and the computer’s motherboard would probably take some damage too.
However, as Ars Technica reports, the hard drive and CPU probably escape the worst of the effects, so it could be possible to retrieve some data from the hard drive of the broken machine.
Most people are vigilant about their online security, but generally they don’t think twice about the hardware they plug into their devices. It’s unlikely you’re going to be hit with a USB Killer any time soon, but it’s worth bearing in mind, especially considering ordinary-looking USB drives like this one have been used to transmit worms and viruses in the past.