Laptop killing booby-trapped USB drive



Asshole stick: DIY USB destroyer the size of a thumbdrive

So what does it do?


Most likely it ruins a single USB port.


Depends on the hardware. A poorly grounded laptop is at most risk, and based on my experience a lot of companies cut corners on ESD.


Sounds like just the thing you need for going through airport security.


I was just going to say that. Go ahead and check my USB device - warning: I have “security” on it.


And people look at me funny because I like to crack open the case of basically any electronic device I can get my hands on, ideally before using it…


I think that should be field transistors, not filed.

I don’t see much use for this. You can kill one laptop, maybe two, before your victim wises up. That’s damage on the level of a practical joke; it certainly wouldn’t bring down Equifax or Iran or whoever.


They stayed up at night filing down the transistors to fit them on the board.
Started out with a thimble-sized aluminum can, and ended with a SOT-23.


Not a very exciting project.
A more interesting thing would be a teeny-tiny Tesla coil playing Hava Nagila.


This reminds me of an early BOFH story, involving a laptop “shell” filled with dry cells and a phased voltage invertor. It had me mumbling “Rich, Chunky Volts” for days after.


As a standalone device, this seems to have limited usefulness. However, upon disassembling some dead USB keys, I have found that a USB memory stick can be so small as to completely fit inside the metal shell of a USB A connector. That raises a different possibility.

Make up one of these devices with both a USB key and this USB killer - based on the cumulative sizes, both should fit inside a plausible memory stick shell. Then, depending on your preferences, have either a lock switch or a hidden switch to select between the two. On one setting it’s a USB key - and on the other setting, it nukes the port. Switch it to memory for your use, but switch it to “protect” when you aren’t using it. How many machines will someone go through before realizing the problem? If you are feeling excessively paranoid, wire the killer to fry the memory key as well when it is triggered. Now that I think about it, that is potentially a rather useful variation.

In terms of defense, it would seem that running all your USB connections through a USB hub will keep attacks like this from causing expensive damage. If you’re planning to be even more careful, I think someone could design a “voltage protection dongle” with metal-oxide-varistors (MOVs) protecting the port from excessive voltage across the various USB connection pairings.


Correct.[quote=“Boundegar, post:8, topic:53517”]
I think that should be field transistors, not filed.


(as an aside, “being down Equifax or Iran” doesn’t scan for me… Did you mean “beat down”?)


Also known as a long-term “how good is your attention to detail” test, Russian Roulette style.


Continuing the theme of booby traps, I bring you VengeCycle!


“bring down”, I think.

(Skitt’s Law rears its head again)




That’s damage on the level of many hundreds of dollars if someone does it to me. I dunno who you practical joke with, but I would be pretty upset.


Ok, how about if once it runs out of circuitry to fry it arcs across a vial of thermite sealed inside a vial of VX nerve gas. If you’re going to go all the way you might as well go all the way.


I hear that if you’re using the Oculus Rift at the time, it’s kind of like Snow Crash.