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Hackers waste Xbox One, PS4, MacBook, Pixel, with USB zapper

What would happen if someone sticks this USBBQ into an airplane seat socket?

VIDS Hackers are destroying everything from the latest gaming systems, phones, and even cars with a dangerous circuit-frying USB device that could put critical systems at risk.

The -220V USBKill device developed last year and since refined is an inconspicious USB stick that can ruin devices in seconds by delivering continous power surges through USB ports.

[That link, and all others in this story, is to a youTube video of USBKill at work - Ed]

Unlike malicious USB sticks which can be safely examined in virtualised or secure environments, USBKill will ruin anything that does not have isolated power protection on USB ports.

So far hackers with more dollars than cents have murdered top of the line gaming consoles, the Xbox One S and PlayStation 4 Pro, and Microsoft Surface.

One notable lunatic nuked a brand new MacBook Pro, Google Pixel, and a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge as soon as the top end devices were unboxed. The iPad Pro survived the USB barbeque as did a set of Beats headphones. Apple's iPhone 7 Plus.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 also - surprisingly - failed to go nova when the same unboxing YouTube psychopath connected it to USBKill.

Youtube Video

The opportunity for serious harm extends far beyond wasting high end consumer products. USBKill's Russian creator, a chap known as "Dark_Purple" says unnamed car manufacturers have purchased his product to evaluate the susceptibility of vehicle USB ports.

The hardware hacker plugged USBKill into his own car of unspecified make and model, frying the dashboard head unit.

Chris Gatford, director of Sydney-based penetration testing firm HackLabs, says the threat posed by the devices is unlimited.

"USB ports are everywhere - in cars, in power sockets, in charging stations," Gatford says.

"And in planes."

There appear to have been no public tests against aircraft USB ports which could fry connected entertainment and charging systems, if not cause further faults.

Gatford says the attacks are possible when vendors take engineering design shortcuts and do not optically isolate the data lines on USB ports. ®

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