Cheap, Easy-To-Buy USB Device Can Literally Fry Your Computer (Or Anything Else)

Image courtesy of angela n.

It sounds like something out of a spy thriller or sci-fi novel, but as with many other once-futuristic technologies, fact and fiction have merged: There’s a tiny USB device out there that can flat-out fry almost any laptop it’s plugged into, and they’re cheap enough that basically anyone who wants to cause some trouble can buy one.

As Inc. reports, the USB Killer does exactly one thing: delivers a big fat electric jolt to the device it’s plugged in to, shorting out the insides. Permanently.

The “how” is fairly straightforward: You plug it into something. It rapidly draws a charge from that thing (same as your phone or mouse or anything else can do over USB). When it’s fully charged — which takes a second or less — it immediately discharges the power back out. That sends a harmful power surge into the device, likely frying lots of bits. And the USB Killer will keep repeating this cycle as long as it’s connected.

The device costs €49.95 — about $56, today — and is available to order online, which is about as low a barrier of entry as you can get for electronic tools of general destruction.

Via BoingBoing, there’s a proof-of-concept video showing the device at work:

There is, however, one category of safe devices, according to Inc: Mac hardware. Apple, the device makers claim, has already built in protection against this kind of surge to its products.

If you don’t have any particular enemies or work on megalomaniacal projects, odds of anyone getting one of these and coming after your personal laptop are probably pretty low. But since it works on any unprotected USB port — from airplanes to copy machines to televisions — there’s a pretty high potential for mayhem out there.

This New USB Stick That Anyone Can Buy Destroys Almost Anything It Is Plugged Into [Inc.]

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