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Watch what you connect! ‘USB Killer’ fries almost anything it’s plugged into

Remember the USB Killer? It was a nasty piece of hardware that, once plugged into a laptop, would fry its component. Well, now you can buy one for yourself.

The mysterious company behind the device is selling the latest version of the USB Killer for 50 euros ($55) and is promoting it as a testing tool. The USB Killer works by sending a 220-volt surge through the computer, which renders it useless. The makers claim that the USB is intended for testing the surge protection in devices but it raises eyebrows at the same time.

They go on to explain that their device can destroy 95 percent of computers (not including Apple) so the potential for abuse is worrying. “Almost all consumer-level hardware fails when tested against the USB Kill,” the site reads. “The most frequent outcome is the complete destruction of the device (laptops, TV, telephones, etc).”

It may be intended for security researchers and tinkerers, but if anyone can buy it, it can be used maliciously. It’s all the more reason to not flippantly plug in USBs you find lying around. The company’s FAQ page says it “strongly condems [sic] malicious use of its products” but pointed out that all customers are responsible for how it is used.

We don’t know who exactly is behind the USB Killer. Early demonstration videos of the nasty hardware showed an allegedly Russian hacker going by the pseudonym Dark Purple. However the press release announcing the device’s availability lists Hong Kong as the company’s location. Mashable attempted to find out more and contacted the makers, who said they were indeed based in Hong Kong.

As well as selling the USB Killer, it is also selling a “USB Kill Tester Shield,” which claims it can allow you test the USB without killing your computer. Approach with caution.

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Jonathan Keane
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jonathan is a freelance technology journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. He's previously written for publications and sites…
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