There is a new potential threat that turns the lowly thumb drive into a ‘laptop killer’ by using a high voltage to destroy the computer’s components. The drive uses high voltage and high current to ‘fry’ the electronics inside the port. And because this port is often connected to the CPU, the whole laptop can be affected. A colleague of Dark Purple is reported as saying the device is ‘like an atomic bomb: cool to have, but can not be applied. The basic idea of the USB drive is quite simple,’ explained Dark Purple. ‘When connected to the USB port, an inverting DC/DC converter runs and charges capacitors to -110V [and] when the voltage is reached, the DC/DC is switched off.
‘The loop runs till everything possible is broken down.’ In November a team of Berlin-based researchers reverse-engineered the files that control how a USB drive's software works. This so-called firmware was then reprogrammed to give complete control of a PC to the hacker.Firmware is a software program, or set of instructions, programmed onto a hardware device.It tells the device how to communicate with other devices, including computers. Drive manufacturers will often update firmware to improve the performance of their devices.These changes are made at a central level before being pushed out to individual devices. The flaw was discovered by Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell at Security Research Labs has been dubbed BadUSB. It affects thumb drives and external hard drives, but also any device that connects to a PC using USB. This includes keyboards and the mouse, as well as the USB drives used to charge phones and tablets. Below is the demonstration of the Killer USB