Man Pleads Guilty to Using “USB Killer” to Destroy Dozens of Computers

A couple years ago, I wrote about the USB Killer, a device that will destroy a computer in a few seconds by repeatedly charging and discharging its capacitors when plugged into a USB port. The device is intended to test surge protection, but I also think it is an interesting possibility to quickly destroy a computer that may be seized by a potential adversary.

Vishwanath Akuthota, 27, thought it would be a good idea to take one of the devices and use it to destroy 66 computers at The College of St. Rose, where he was a student. Not only did Akuthota use the device to destroy the computers, but according to a DOJ press release detailing his plea agreement, he also

recorded himself doing so using his iPhone, including making statements such as “I’m going to kill this guy” before inserting the USB Killer into a computer’s USB port.

. . .

When he is sentenced on August 12, 2019 by United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino, Akuthota faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to 3 years. 

MicroUSB Cable with Switch

Given how many devices there are now which use USB cables solely for power, kind of odd this is the first such cable I’ve seen with an actual switch. Occasionally I need to reboot one of my Chromecast devices, and it would be great to simply be able to toggle a switch rather than have to reach awkwardly behind the TV or go looking for where the USB powered hub is located.

Plugable 7 Port USB 3.0 Hub

I bought a new laptop back in October that was the first computer I’ve owned that included USB 3.0 ports. Naturally I wanted a USB 3.0 hub as well, but reading various forums and online reviews of USB 3.0 gear indicated users having a lot of problems with USB 3.0 in general due to idiosyncrasies with different chipsets and firmware. One of the most popular chipsets the VL811 had to have a firmware upgrade in December 2012 in order to function reliably with Macintosh computers.

I looked around and decided on Plugable’s 7 port USB 3.0 hub which uses the VIA VL812 chipset. I’ve been using this on a daily basis for several months now and it has worked like a charm. I haven’t had any issues with devices randomly disconnecting or USB 3.0 devices being forced down to USB 2.0 speeds.

 

Plugable USB 3.0 Hub