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This article was published on November 9, 2016

This terrifying homemade USB killer will instantly kill your computer

Juan Buis
Story by

Juan Buis

Digital Culture Reporter

Juan Buis is TNW's Digital Culture Reporter, and you should click here. Juan Buis is TNW's Digital Culture Reporter, and you should click here.

One of the basic rules of computer safety is that you don’t click on suspicious-looking links, and a lot of people are already well-aware of that. Another, relatively new one, is that you shouldn’t put random USB sticks in your computer.

Maybe you’ve heard of the USB killer, a $49 device that you plug in and fires a surge of power through your computer’s motherboard if it’s not isolated well enough — which is often the case.

DIY YouTuber Thomas Kim has shown it’s not that hard to create something that has the same effect yourself. By combining camera flash parts with a AA battery, the device delivers 300 volts when plugged into an unsuspecting computer. It’s effectively the same as a power surge, but the difference is that most power supplies have protection against those. USB buses often can’t offer the same kind of resistance, and consequently relay the energy to the rest of the computer, instantly killing it.

When that happens, it looks something like this.

Be careful, and please don’t just plug in any thumb drive. It might cost you your computer.