usbbombFor all of their potential usefulness, portable USB hard drives, or Thumb Drives as they are commonly called, are already a serious security concern for businesses.  From spreading malware to leaking company data, the Thumb Drive has become synonymous with risk.  As if not wanting to leave bad enough alone, a Chinese manufacturer has taken things a step further and introduced USB Kill 2.0.

USB Kill 2.0 is a small handheld device that has the ability to destroy, or at least damage, any device with a USB port.  USB Kill functions like any other Thumb Drive; it is inserted into a USB hub and starts to receive power from the connected system.  Where things go wrong is that once the device is fully charged, USB Kill will expel a negative energy burst into the attached system.  This surge of electricity is repeated many times per second until the device is removed from the USB hub.  In many older systems, this burst of electricity is enough to ruin hard drives and destroy motherboards.  Newer systems and many mobile devices come standard with surge protection safety guards in place, but even in those cases, the burst of electricity can destroy the USB hub.

USB Kill2.0 seen here in a protective carrying case.

USB Kill2.0 seen here in a protective carrying case.

The Hong Kong based manufacturer of USB Kill, claims that the device is designed to allow IT professionals to test for surge protection vulnerabilities.  Unfortunately for everyone else, the device is sold affordably at €49.95 (about $56), which makes it an ideal product for individuals who want to spread chaos.

The dangers of this product on the market should not be understated.  Any device with an accessible USB port is potentially in danger.  Demonstrations of the device show that an unshielded computer can be rendered inoperable in a matter of seconds.  Public copy machines, photo booths, TVs and laptop computers are just some of the easy targets that could be destroyed before an observer realized what was going on.  Even worse is the inconspicuous nature of the USB Kill device.  Left is a public place, it is not unreasonable to assume a user would attempt to insert the device out of curiosity alone.

If your business hasn’t cracked down on Thumb Drives, there is no better time.  USB Kill is expected to be on sale as early as next week.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Webmaster and Lead Designer