Despite the increase in the storage of files and documents on cloud-based systems, the humble USB is still playing an integral part in our lives. From offices to homes, this convenient tool is used for quickly and easily transferring files from one device to another.

However, just because they may seem harmless doesn’t mean they can’t give your cause for concern. If you have ever connected your USB to an infected computer it is likely that it has become infected with malware. What’s more, if you thought that a virus was the worst thing that could happen to your USB then you’re mistaken – a USB could, literally, fry your computer.

Russian security expert Dark Purple has recently proven this and has developed an updated version of his so-called USB Killer; a USB capable of destroying a laptop but by connecting the two devices.

His first device managed to discharge 110 volts of electricity on the USB port when it was connected, but the new USB Killer 2.0 has managed to increase further the voltage that it can transmit, making it capable of relative destruction. If we consider that a USB port can handle around 5 volts, his invention goes far beyond what it is capable of tolerating, and in just a few seconds the USB Killer can destroy the motherboard.

computer pendrive

In order to achieve this, the USB that he uses has been modified to use a DC-to-DC converter and various condensers. When it is connected, it begin to transmit an electrical current to the condensers, which turn into tension points as a consequence of this powerful charge.

The Dark Purple system not only manages to destroy computers with this method, but also any technological device that has a USB port. It doesn’t matter if it is a laptop, a desktop computer, or a tablet – this USB is designed to destroy the motherboard of any device, regardless of its size.

Although the investigator hasn’t carried out tests on all devices, his demonstration of the USBs power in destroying a Lenovo ThinkPad X60 leaves us with little doubt as to the potential of the USB Killer 2.0. The effects of his demonstration were immediate, with the computer automatically shutting down and it was impossible to restart it.

He has also indicated that the damage is only done to the motherboard, which means that by simply replacing this should be enough to rescue the computer, seeing as the hard drive shouldn’t be affected by the discharge. In any case, if you found the demonstration enjoyable and you want to recreate it yourself, it’s probably best that you don’t do it on your beloved computer.So, why has this security expert become interested in this unusual device? According to himself, he began working on USB Killer 1.0 after a speaking with a work colleague: “He read an article about how a dude in the subway fished out a USB flash drive from the outer pocket of some guy’s bag. The USB drive had “128” written on it. He came home, inserted it into his laptop and burnt half of it down. He wrote “129” on the USB drive and now has it in the outer pocket of his bag”.So, the moral of the story and the lesson that we should take from the USB Killer, is that if we stumble across a USB then we probably should take it and use it as our own.

You never know what they may have stored in them and it’s best not to take the risk, as they could contain dire malware.  If you want to protect your computer or tablet you need to look beyond the programs that you have installed; you also need to be aware of the dangers that come from external sources.