Wednesday, June 29, 2022

This USB drive can kill your computer with high voltage

This USB drive can kill your computer by charging itself up and then discharging itself on your computer's components.

Don’t put random flash drive looking things into your computer. Seriously. The end of the story could be you buying a new computer. Or cancelling your credit cards. Or both.

This USB dongle physically destroys your computer until its sure that there is nothing left to go.

[pull_quote_center]The basic idea of the USB drive is quite simple. When we connect it up to the USB port, an inverting DC/DC converter runs and charges capacitors to -110V. When the voltage is reached, the DC/DC is switched off. At the same time, the filed transistor opens. 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. I‘ll explain to others that negative voltage is easier to commutate, as we need the N-channel field resistor, which, unlike the P-channel one, can have larger current for the same dimensions.[/pull_quote_center]

In layman’s terms, this means that the pseudo flash drive slowly charges itself up with the power from your USB port. Its goal is to reach -110V, which is the same as the voltage that is in the wall outlet in your house (in North America). As soon as it reaches that target voltage, it releases the pent up energy upon the USB circuits in your computer, letting it wreck havoc wherever it may go. The circuits in your computer are not designed to handle such a high voltage, so when met with -110V, they simply fry. Once it has discharged its load upon your USB controller, it charges itself back up and repeats the process until there is nothing left of your computer’s internals. Since a lot of the USB controller components are built in to the main processor, there is a good chance that this will quickly kill your processor, and therefore your computer.

Dangerous USB flash drive

Thankfully the creator hasn’t released schematics on how to build one of these yourself, but the concept is there and has been around for a while. Unfortunately this isn’t something that is easy to fix, as insulating components to make the able to withstand such high voltage is not trivial and would greatly increase the cost of the components. For the foreseeable future, we just need to be a little careful about what we plug in to our USB ports.



Daniel Heppner
My big interests are photography, IT, and electronics. I like to get out the soldering iron and build things for my house that light up. I've traveled around the world taking pictures and consider the viewfinder an extension of my eyeball. I build computers for myself and friends for fun, and have experience with software programming. I have experience programming underwater robots for robotics competitions, as well as wiring up the circuitry for them.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Read