A few months back in March, a Russian engineer who goes by pseudonym Dark_Purple, wrote a post about a USB device that would ‘burn half a laptop down’. The USB thumb drive he was talking about was designed to discharge a ‘destructive’ amount of electricity. Once plugged this ‘killer’ USB thumb drive into USB port of a laptop, it will run enough amount of electricity capable of ‘frying’ the laptop’s internal parts. Now Dark_Purple has demonstrated USB Killer v2.0 on a video in which he inserts a thumb drive into a laptop and in a few seconds, the laptop goes permanently off.
Dark_Purple works for a company that develops and manufactures electronic components, where he, along with his colleagues decided to create a USB thumb drive with a purpose – ‘it would burn half a laptop down.’
When we connect it to the USB port, an inverting DC/DC converter runs and charges capacitors to -110V. When the voltage is reached, the DC/DC is switched off. At the same time, the filed transistor opens. It is used to apply the -110V to signal lines of the USB interface. When the voltage on capacitors increases to -7V, the transistor closes and the DC/DC starts. The loop runs till everything possible is broken down.Dark_Purple on how USB Killer works, in March 2015
Now Dark_Purple has posted details on updated version of USB Killer. The improved version of USB Killer now outputs twice as much power than the previously demonstrated version. It outputs -220V of electricity instead of -110V. The new version is also more compact, enough to fit all components as compared to previous version. The damage caused by USB Killer 2.0 is not limited to burning just laptops but all those devices with USB host in them.
Finally we managed to organize the installation and testing of prototypes of a new version of the device. Devices that perform only one function – the destruction of computers. But let’s not (be) limited to computers, the device is able to incapacitate almost any equipment equipped with USB host interface. For example, I have an oscilloscope on the table with USB interface (but it is still useful), almost all smart phones support USB OTG mode, TV, routers, modems, etc (could be disabled using USB Killer 2.0).Dark_Purple about USB Killer 2.0 (translated and slightly modified)
Dark_Purple has also posted a video which demonstrates (possibly) him inserting a USB thumb drive into a laptop. Within a few moments, the laptop goes down permanently and does not power on. Dark_Purple confirms that he bought this new laptop specifically for demonstration purpose.
It does not surprise me that in the digital era, such ‘weapons’ would be more and more developed, and will be used by governments, armies, and others for destructive purpose. Assuming the next world-war would be fought in cyber-space, countries are gearing up for it and even more destructive digital weapons will surely be developed to target the ‘enemies’. A USB drive lying on a table or down the street could prove as hazardous as an unidentified object. Always be sure about using any device you find unattended as it could permanently cause damage to your device or it could be loaded with malware to infect your device.
Dark_Purple has quoted a former colleague saying “it’s like an atomic bomb: cool to have, but can not be applied.” – A nice thought indeed.
What are your thought? Feel free to comment.
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