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Can Hackers turn a remote computer into a bomb and explode it to kill someone, just like they do in hacker movies? Wait, wait! Before answering that, Let me tell you an interesting story about Killer USB drive:

A man walking in the subway stole a USB flash drive from the outer pocket of someone else’s bag. The pendrive had “128” written on it. After coming home, he inserted the pendrive into his laptop and instead discovering any useful data, he burnt half of his laptop down. The man then took out the USB pendrive, replaced the text “128” with “129” and put it in the outer pocket of his bag… Amen!

I’m sure, you would really not imagine yourself being the 130th victim of this Killer perdrive, neither I.

This above story was told to a Russian researcher, nicknamed Dark Purple, who found the concept very interesting and developed his own computer-frying USB Killer pendrive.

He is working with electronic manufacturing company from where he ordered some circuit boards from China for creating his own USB killer stick.

When we connect it up to the USB port, an inverting DC/DC converter runs and charges capacitors to -110V,” the researcher explained. “When the voltage is reached, the DC/DC is switched off. At the same time, the field transistor opens.

Killer USB hacking

At last, he successfully developed a well functioning USB killer pendrive which is able to effectively destroy sensitive components of a computer when plugged-in.

It is used to apply the -110V to signal lines of the USB interface. When the voltage on capacitors increases to -7V, the transistor closes and the DC/DC starts. The loop runs till everything possible is broken down. Those familiar with the electronics have already guessed why we use negative voltage here.

It is not possible for hardware to prevent all damage to physical systems in some scenarios. It may be possible for an attacker to exploit SCADA vulnerabilities and remove safety controls used by power plants or put it into an unstable state.

exploit SCADA vulnerabilities

Stuxnet worm is one of the real example of such cyber attacks, which was designed to destroy centrifuges at the Nuclear facility and all this started from a USB drive.

Also in 2014, a security firm demonstrated an attack on Apple’s Mac computer by overriding temperature controls, which can actually set the machine on fire.

So if we say that a computer could be converted into a bomb, then of course it’s true, a hacker can probably make your computer explode as well.

 Therefore, next time when you find an unknown USB flash drive, just beware before inserting it into your laptop. Because this time it will not fire up your important files or data stored on your laptop like what malwares do, instead it will fire up your Laptop.