A Russian security researcher who calls himself “Dark Purple” has built a cyanide pill for your laptop in the guise of a harmless flash drive capable of scorching electric shock.
Calling it the “USB Killer v2.0 in an demonstration video, Dark Purple shows how a test laptop is rendered useless within seconds of inserting the drive, which immediately delivers a 220-volt shock to the USB port. He doesn’t reveal exactly how this works, but described the process behind an earlier version in a March 2015 Kukuruku post.
We haven’t tested it out on a computer (yet), but the concept’s really cool:
“The basic idea of the USB drive is quite simple. When we connect it up 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 capacitor increases to -7V, the transistor closes and the DC/DC starts. The loop runs until everything possible is broken down. Those familiar with the electronics have already guessed why we use negative voltage here. I‘ll explain to others that negative voltage is easier to commutate, as we need the N-channel field resistor, which, unlike the P-channel one, can have larger current for the same dimensions.
The new version, he writes doubles the voltage and is more compact, but “the principle of operation has not changed.”
The jolt should sear a USB port and the motherboard beyond salvaging but, as Ars Technica reports, the hard drive and CPU might survive. Just something to remember if you’re thinking about using this as sort of emergency escape hatch in the event the police are breaking down your door. Or, you know, whoever. What you do is between you and your laptop.