Death by USB

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I always warned that if somebody else gets physical possession of your computer, then it’s a safe bet that they’ll crack it. Now to destroy your computer, maybe all that needs to happen is for you to take possession of the wrong USB stick:

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).

In a blog post last week, 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.

Russian hackers lie — a lot — so I’m wary of this claim.

Anyone care to take a stab at how USB Killer could or couldn’t work?