While malware often does much more damage than merely erasing your data, the fear of your precious documents disappearing is still a very scary thought.
A new type of threat, however, goes one step further: the physical destruction of your computer.
The USB Killer, which looks like a normal USB stick, was created by a Russian security researcher known as “Dark Purple.” Instead of storing data, though, it acts as a cyber weapon, destroying a computer by sending a bolt of electricity through its USB interface.
The purpose is twofold; it can act as a virus or an autodestruct device (though that’s more in the realm of spy movies).
Dark Purple claimed the USB Killer could destroy “almost any equipment” with a USB interface.
The technical details remain murky so take this with a grain of salt but it appears the device rapidly discharges a capacitor, or sends “minus 220” Volts through the USB interface.
The USB Killer fist began gaining attention in March, when Dark Purple first revealed it.
Dark Purple says the laptop that have been destroyed will “live” after its motherboard is restored, and that it’s extremely unlikely the computer’s hard disk was damaged, meaning that data on it was probably not erased.
Still, the concept may and should make you wary of using USB sticks from unknown sources.