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Malicious USB stick will fry your computer outright [Video]

A new malicious invention has been uncovered in the form of a USB stick that fries a computer when it’s plugged in.

The creation of a certain ‘Dark Purple’, a Russian security researcher, the stick, which looks just like a traditional USB key, has been designed to deliver 220V right down the gullet of the machine it’s plugged into, which will fry the motherboard and render the computer unusable.

Until you replace the motherboard that is – the PC should be fine otherwise, and the hard drive unaffected, at least in theory although it is possible other components could be damaged in some way.

So at least your personal or indeed corporate data most likely won’t be trashed if you do fall victim to this piece of malicious peripheral engineering.

TechWeek Europe spotted the video showing Dark Purple demonstrating the deadly stick in action on a Lenovo laptop.

He plugs it in and the notebook’s screen immediately goes dark, and the machine dies. Repeated presses of the power button to try to get it to come back on all fail, as you’ll see in the clip above.

Note that this device can potentially take out other pieces of hardware which have USB ports aside from computers, such as routers or TVs.

Of course, there’s an easy way to stop getting your fingers burnt when it comes to USB sticks, and that’s simply to avoid plugging any stick of unknown origin into your machine. As ever, a caution-first policy is best.

Even if the USB stick in question doesn’t directly attack your PC with an electric shock, it could do something more subtle like installing a back-door on your computer, handing control of it over to a malicious party.

Darren Allan
Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.