Author Options:

DIY USB Killer? Answered

I am fully aware of the legal consequences of property damage and in no way do I endorse it. I am curious however about the technology behind the attack method of the USB KIller http://www.usbkill.com.  On their product page there is a picture of the device without it's cover and it appears to be mostly an array of capacitors. My current guess is that when plugged into the target device the capacitors are charged and once the array reaches a certain voltage it is shorted across the data terminals.

I was wondering if anyone had bought one and could confirm this or if anyone had any alternative ideas about its operation.


Your current guess echoes what their web page,


says, i.e.

"When plugged into a device, the USB Killer rapidly charges its
capacitors from the USB power lines. When the device is charged, -200VDC
is discharged over the data lines of the host device. This
charge/discharge cycle is repeated many times per second, until the USB
Killer is removed"

In another sense, I am guessing the operation of this device is based on an economic fallacy, i.e. the idea that wanton destruction is actually good for the economy, good for everyone, in the aggregate.

Wikipedia calls this idea, the "Parable of the Broken Window", and it is based on a well-known (to whom, right?) essay written by a French economist, in 1850.


Sort of the same idea was presented briefly in the 1997 movie, The Fifth Element. It is the scene where Mr. Zorg intentionally knocks a glass onto the floor, and breaks it, while at the same time speaking this wonderful soliloquy about how destruction is actually creative, inspires economic activity, etc.

Thankfully, some thoughtful person has upped this scene to Youtube, uh, here:

and I think scene kind of stands on its own. Watching this one scene won't reveal enough to spoil the movie, for those who haven't seen it.

Interesting bit about the window unfortunately that thought process doesn't take into account the good enough factor.

The "Good enough Factor" is when you build something or leave something as is because as far as you are concerned it is good enough when in truth it is a booby trap.

Home hardware Barrie Ontario, fined $250,000 failure to provide a safe work environment. They left something as is until it fell brain injuring an employee for life. It was cheaper to leave it as is instead of fixing it, they figured it was good enough.

Shelburne Woods Shelburne Ontario, fined $750,000 failure to provide a safe work environment. They left something as is until while working on a banding machine it clamped down on the employee killing them. It was cheaper to leave it as is instead of fixing it, they figured it was good enough.

Sometimes the only way to get something fixed is to break it so it is no longer good enough.

Holly Park Meat Packers Bolton Ontario, fined $450,000 failure to provide a safe work environment, fine $845 unsafe vehicle, towing $675, repairs $4,000 recertification $1,000, loss of product $25,000, and last my wages to sit on my backside until the truck was fixed. I dutifully filled out my circle check every morning writing down every repair needed on the truck including the cracked windshield. They would not fix the truck instead they signed off on the circle check saying it was good enough and filed their copy. Since I filled out my circle check every day and they signed off, they are responsible.

So I'm going down the highway when whom do I see but the MTO inspection station and well somehow that little crack in the corner of the windshield careens across the windshield until it stops right in front of me.

Well when the MTO sees the crack as I pass through the inspection station they could not resist the urge to pull my truck over for a closer inspection. Normally for a cracked windshield you get a fix it order and it ends there, you get it fixed. But my truck needed 15 repairs so they took a crowbar and ripped off the plates. Sometimes the only way to get an unsafe situation fixed is to break a window.

See why I liked the bit about the window and how it didn't take into account the "Good enough factor."

I think what you call "good enough factor" is the same thing Wikipedia describes as "Calculus of negligence".

That is the math a company has to do to determine if the cost of remedying an unsafe situation is more expensive than what it would cost to just let accidents happen, and simply pay all the fines and costs of court settlements associated with these accidents.

Sort of what made me think of this, was I remembered something similar in a scene from that movie Fight Club (1999). It is the scene where the narrator explains the work he does for a living, applying a simple formula, to determine whether or not the car manufacturer he works for should initiate a recall for their unsafe cars.

Link to the IMDB page with the quote from Fight Club,

Link to amusing Youtube video someone made using that quote,here:

Too many movies use the Calculus of negligence in their plots, and some of the Incidents I mentioned are that.

The good enough factor includes not perceiving the danger in the first place.

I am legally Blind have been since 2010, you would not believe how often I come across something safe enough for a sighted person but unsafe for a visually impaired person.

This is a great conversation that I had not expected from my question.

Perhaps this will help people realize how insecure their current machines are and future modifications by engineers will help secure peoples PC's.

A similar issue regarding OSs blindly trusting usb devices have allowed for reverse shell tunnels to be easily installed on a target device. The creators of badusb and usbdirveby have shown us this by releasing code exploiting these issues.

Maybe we should all be running our computers from the inside of safes.

There is an old hacker trick.

Take a Zip drive and drop it on the floor.

Sooner or later someone is going to plug it in to see who owns it.

I've seen this all over the internet, and was wondering about doing something in the other direction. Say, your low-profile PC is mounted under the desk or otherwise out of sight. A likely looking PC case rests on the desktop, cables apparently running to it properly from the peripherals, but the USB ports are wired to a high voltage, high amp source inside the case. I probably won't try it myself anytime soon, but could be fun for someone to try.

i made one :-) bad news for just about any device injected with high voltage down the data line the voltage likes to jump out of the data line as well zapping other devices with a nice high voltage blue arc like the kind that comes out of a taser


Take a look at this DIY 3$ USB KIller + Tester https://youtu.be/82-MDymVkps


1 year ago

We used to wire a switch across an outlet plug to be used once at a party to kill the lights and the only thing that was destroyed was a old style screw in fuse..

It looks really really fun to use (irony)

I guess your right in your assumptions.

I for one will not be parting with my $49 just to destroy someones PC.

Testing purposes my @$$

putting it in the microwave for a few minutes would cost you a lot less. A second choice could be the bathtub, but it might recover from that.

Similar "devices" have been around since the days of serial and parallel ports.
Usuall hidden in someone's toolbox as payback for something.
Sadly in todays times the internet provides ALL info, I guess it is only a matter of time until someone sells a few hundred of them to some companies...