Researcher creates a less than subtle way of taking out any USB-equipped device
A Russian security researcher called ‘Park Purple’ has created a USB stick that can take out a computer with a not-insignificant 220 volt charge.
Rather than use sophisticated malware to destroy its target, the stick is less subtle, sending the charge through the signal lines of the USB interface, effectively killing the computer within seconds.
A video of the USB stick in action can be found here taking out a brand new Lenovo Thinkpad X60 laptop.
“The device is able to incapacitate almost any equipment equipped with USB Host interface,” said a Russian translation of the blog post, which pointed out televisions, routers, modems, and even smartphones were susceptible.
The researcher said that viewers should not worry about the terminated Lenovo laptop, which the researcher had acquired specifically for this test. A new motherboard is apparently on the way, but Dark Purple says that “it is extremely unlikely” that the hard disk and the information contained within it was damaged.
There is no word on whether the electrified PC poses any risks to humans. Indeed, most of the common sources of injuries to humans from technology tends to come from overheating laptop or smartphone batteries.
In 2011, civil aviation officials in Australia launched a formal investigation after an Apple iPhone had to be doused by a flight attendant with a fire extinguisher on an internal flight. The unnamed passenger’s iPhone 4 reportedly began glowing red and smoking, causing the flight attendant to reach for a fire extinguisher.
In 2010, a homeowner blamed her company laptop for causing a fire at her thatched cottage that resulted in more than £350,000 in damages.
But perhaps the most bizarre injury caused by technology happened to a British man living in New Zealand in late 2011, when he was impaled by his laptop.
Fifty-two year old William Warner suffered a freak hand injury after the DVD drive of his Toshiba laptop fired out a piece of metal which impaled his palm.
The Briton had reportedly placed a disc on the DVD tray of his laptop, and was in the process of closing the drawer when a sharp piece of metal shot out and pierced his right palm.
“I looked at my palm and I was wondering, God what just happened?” he was quoted as saying. “Then the pain … became excruciating and I had to be rushed to hospital.”
Warner was apparently taken to North Shore Hospital, where the 11cm metal spike was removed. His treatment included having a bone fused as well as stitches.
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