Data theft is something we need to be more and more aware about. We’re told to take measures such as using secure passwords and anti-virus software. A group of electrical engineers has gone even further and developed an extreme solution for protecting data - a product that destroys USB ports.
In October we reported on a device dubbed USB Killer v2.0 which draws power before creating a power surge that destroys the internal components such as the motherboard. A similar device is looking for funding on Indiegogo, which destroys the USB port.
The USB Killer is being billed as a way to stop data theft. Project leader and aerospace engineer Dmitry Grishin says it is your: “Last line of defence against unauthorized data access through the USB ports in any of your computers, including Windows and Mac laptops and desktops.”
The USB Killer includes a DC converter that charges to 110 volts. The voltage is then discharged back into the USB port, gradually destroying it. Watch the USB Killer in action in the video above.
You might wonder why you need something that destroys your USB port. A couple of real-life scenarios are mentioned.
If thieves break into your house, they’ll see an innocuous-looking USB key next to your computer and insert it into your computer to steal data. Instead, it burns out the USB port. Alternatively, if someone in your household finds a USB key of photographs/documents you don’t want them to see, use USB Killer to destroy the port on your computer so they can’t read the key. They will of course still have the key.
Despite being billed as a solution to data theft, the USB Killer throws up numerous problems.
As well as destroying your USB port, it could damage the motherboard - yes it’s repairable, but not ideal. The developers admit this on their website: "While testing we broke a couple of computers entirely. Use of USB Killer caused permanent unsolvable damage on the tested computer's motherboard.
It’s also pointless for laptop owners - thieves can just pick up the device, steal it and access the contents of your hard drive.
What happens if someone in your household accidentally picks up the USB Killer and destroys your USB port? There’s also nothing to stop someone buying a batch of USB Killers and vandalising computers.
The team are looking for funding to mass produce the USB Killer. At the time of writing they have raised £895 ($1350) towards a £6623 ($10,000) goal.
What do you think of the USB Killer? Would you use one? Let us know in the Comments section below.