You might have thought of something like James Bond movies when you read “Destroying Computers Using USB Sticks!” because as imaginary as it might sound, we could’ve done this since the dawn of computers! But the question remains: Why, exactly? And the USBKill group’s answer is:”Because we can”. Meet the USBKill
As cute and innocent as it might look, this dongle packs some very scary hardware under the hood (Of course scary for your components but nothing out of the norm) as it looks like this:
And, yes you are correct, those are not flash chips, those are capacitors. And the way this USB stick kills PCs is by charging those capacitors then discharging them with quick succession. This little stick is capable of discharging 240V to your poor little components making it able to permanently damage inadequately protected components or even fry them!
The USBKill has always been a small evil project and had never been intended to be widespread but a Honk Kong-based company decided that it’s too much fun to miss out on and started mass producing them and selling them for about $56-$60 a pop for “Testing purposes”. They also offer a “Tester Shield” which protects your components while you’re performing the attack.
To be fully honest, I wouldn’t buy into any of what this company is saying. They’re just trying to spread something dangerous (Kind of) to the masses just to sell their shields (Just like what anti-virus companies did back in the day) and to gain easy profit. And aside from that, unless you’re running an early 2000s laptop or a SoC (Sytem on a Chip) or something small like the Raspberry Pi, it probably won’t cause any serious, if noticeable, damage.
I personally like to have a secondary device to test any malicious looking hardware anyone hands me. I suggest you do the same as well…