A new crowdfunded project called “USB Killer” is promoting permanent PC damage as a feature, not a bug.
In what might be the worst Indiegogo project we’ve ever seen, the makers of USB Killer claim that they can “burn” the USB port on a laptop, making it permanently unusable. They’re pitching it as the “last line of defense” against unauthorized data access, while conjuring up some extremely far-fetched scenarios to justify the device’s existence.
“Compromising photos – Your wife is cleaning an apartment one day and finds a USB drive full of photos you would rather her not to see. It’s only a matter of seconds before she gets to the computer to insert the stick; however, you act faster, and use your USB Killer before she arrives. The USB drive is broken and unusable now.”
Unless she just inserts the USB stick in a different computer, that is. Besides, anyone who’s looking to protect sensitive data on a thumb drive is just better off encrypting it from the start. Doing so doesn’t cost a dime and won’t permanently damage your computer. (The makers of USB Killer also caution that their product “may cause damage to the motherboard,” just like this USB hack that goes by the exact same name.)
And if you’re really worried about malicious USB hacks or data theft, a simple registry tweak can lock your USB ports on the software side. Instead of causing irreversible hardware damage, the administrator on a password-protected computer can simply unlock the USB ports as needed. Given the lack of legitimate use cases, it’s more likely that USB Killer will serve as a tool for harm rather than good.
Why this matters: USB Killer is unlikely to meet its $10,000 fundraising goal, but will still collect anyfunds raised (nearly $1600 as of this writing) thanks to Indiegogo’s flexible funding option. We’d dismiss this as some twisted joke if people weren’t throwing money at it.