Browse Definitions :
Definition

USB Killer

A USB Killer is USB drive that has been modified to deliver an electrical surge that can damage or destroy hardware when the altered thumb drive is inserted into a computer's USB port.The modified drive essentially commands the computer's on-board capacitors to rapidly charge and discharge repeatedly. If left alone, the repeated overcharging will overload the USB port and physically destroy the computer's electrical system.

Essentially, a USB Killer works by delivering 210-220 volts to an interface that is designed for 5 volts. The overpowered-surge can damage or destroy not only ports, but also attached hardware. The concept behind USB Killer is similar to that of Ethernet Killer, a modified power cord that does much the same thing.

USB Killer is sold commercially under the name USB Kill. The original concept behind the device was allegedly to help hardware manufacturers and network administrators determine how well a digital device could withstand power surges and electrostatic discharge (ESD). Since its invention, however, this type of altered thumb drive has not been used for penetration testing by any major company -- it has proved popular with cybercriminals, however. 

The concept of a USB Killer is credited to a Russian computer researcher known as Dark purple. In the United States, USB Killer was infamously used in the wild by a student at the College of Saint Rose in upstate New York. The student, who used his iPhone to record himself using USB Killer, destroyed over 60 college computers and was sentenced in 2019 to one year in federal prison. 

To avoid being harmed by a rogue USB Killer, security experts recommend that network administrators and end users take the following steps:

  • Apply firmware updates as soon as they become available.
  • Refrain from using USB drives of unknown origin.
  • Cap USB ports on mission-critical devices. 

This was last updated in June 2019

Continue Reading About USB Killer

Networking
  • local area network (LAN)

    A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers and peripheral devices that are connected together within a distinct ...

  • TCP/IP

    TCP/IP stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol and is a suite of communication protocols used to interconnect ...

  • firewall as a service (FWaaS)

    Firewall as a service (FWaaS), also known as a cloud firewall, is a service that provides cloud-based network traffic analysis ...

Security
  • identity management (ID management)

    Identity management (ID management) is the organizational process for ensuring individuals have the appropriate access to ...

  • fraud detection

    Fraud detection is a set of activities undertaken to prevent money or property from being obtained through false pretenses.

  • single sign-on (SSO)

    Single sign-on (SSO) is a session and user authentication service that permits a user to use one set of login credentials -- for ...

CIO
  • core competencies

    For any organization, its core competencies refer to the capabilities, knowledge, skills and resources that constitute its '...

  • change management

    Change management is a systematic approach to dealing with the transition or transformation of an organization's goals, processes...

  • IT project management

    IT project management is the process of planning, organizing and delineating responsibility for the completion of an ...

HRSoftware
  • recruitment management system (RMS)

    A recruitment management system (RMS) is a set of tools designed to manage the employee recruiting and hiring process. It might ...

  • core HR (core human resources)

    Core HR (core human resources) is an umbrella term that refers to the basic tasks and functions of an HR department as it manages...

  • HR service delivery

    HR service delivery is a term used to explain how an organization's human resources department offers services to and interacts ...

Customer Experience
  • martech (marketing technology)

    Martech (marketing technology) refers to the integration of software tools, platforms, and applications designed to streamline ...

  • transactional marketing

    Transactional marketing is a business strategy that focuses on single, point-of-sale transactions.

  • customer profiling

    Customer profiling is the detailed and systematic process of constructing a clear portrait of a company's ideal customer by ...

Close