USB flash drives have a notoriously bad reputation for causing all sorts of harm to computers. While malware is the typical payload, a new device from a Russian researcher known as Dark Purple aims to physically destroy a system’s hardware.
On the outside, USB Killer 2.0 resembles your run-of-the-mill flash drive. Inside, however, it’s a different story. When connected to a computer, the stick delivers a negative 220-volt electric charge to the USB port. As seen in the video above, this is more than enough to disable a target computer within seconds.
An earlier version of the device used a negative 110-volt charge to do its dirty work. That device used a DC/DC converter to charge the capacitors to negative 110V and once the target was reached, the DC/DC switches off. The loop continues until the hardware is toast.
Just how much damage the drive affords isn’t yet known. As Ars Technica points out, the USB port is almost certainly fried and it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that the motherboard also gets damaged in the act. It may be possible for the processor and hard drive to survive but that’s pure speculation at this point.
Either way, this should serve as yet another reminder to steer clear of flash drives from unknown sources.