Last updated on June 23, 2020
While USB thumb drives are a useful tool, it is important to be wary of their risks. A USB cannot only contain malware but also has the potential to be a USB Killer. USB Killers are a USB thumb drive that can fry an entire computer in seconds.
This is done by inserting the device into a USB port, then the USB Killer charges its capacitors from the computer. Once the device is charged to the specified level, the USB then discharges the power back into the computer. This process results in permanent damage to the computers hardware resulting in a dead device.
This has recently been seen in action by a former college student in New York. This student used a USB Killer to destroy over 66 computers, as well as other equipment such as monitors. This attack resulted in over $58,000 dollars in damage for the college, and a 10-year prison sentence along with a $250,000 fine for the student.
With these devious methods available, it is imperative to not blindly trust devices that you find or receive. USB thumb drives are a useful tool, but because of this, people with malicious intent will take advantage of that. Do not plug in random USB thumb drives that are not from a reliable source. It is as simple as that.
“Trust but verify.” – Ronald Reagan
DOJ – College Student Destroys Computers