Cyber Attacks

Student uses USB Killer device to destroy University computers

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An Indian national in the US has pleaded guilty for destroying 59 computers at the College of St. Rose, in New York, using a weaponized USB thumb drive named “USB Killer”.

The incident happened on February 14 and the suspect names Vishwanath Akuthota, 27, filmed himself while destroying some of the computers.

The prosecution received recordings filmed by him which says “I’m going to kill this guy,” “it’s dead,” and “it’s gone. Boom

The suspect destroyed 59 computers, seven computer monitors and computer-enhanced podiums that had open USB slots.

The attack was done using USB Killer, a weaponized thumb drive which he bought online from a store that sells these kinds of devices.

USB Killer devices work by rapidly charging thumb drive capacitors from the USB power supply, and then discharging the electrical current back into the USB slot. These are all done in seconds times effectively damaging the computer to which the USB Killer device is connected.

The devices damaged costs around $51,109, along with $7,362 in employee time for investigating and replacing destroyed hardware. The suspect has agreed to pay as part of the plea deal.

Akuthota was a former student of College of St. Rose and was graduated in 2017 with an MBA. On the night of the incident he was residing in the US on a student visa even though he was no longer a student.

He was arrested on February 22 and will be sentenced later this year, on August 12. He faces up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to 3 years.

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