A Russian researcher who calls himself Dark Purple recently announced that he'd figured out a way to fry any computer with only a USB stick. His device has the potential to fry USB ports, power supplies and even a computer's processor.
While all of the USB flash drive hacks that we've seen involve messing with a flash drive's internal mechanics, this new attack involves sticking more batteries into the drive. That's because a flash drive loaded with this malware doesn't install anything into your computer. The jury-rigged flash drive strikes simply straight at your battery.
The Register explained how it works:
The researcher, nicknamed Dark Purple, broke up a standard USB stick, and installed an inverting DC-DC converter and some capacitors bought from a Chinese website. When the stick is plugged in, it charges the capacitors to -110V before shutting down, the Hackaday blog notes. Next, a transistor discharges the stored electricity through the USB port's data pins. This continues until the capacitors are down to -7V, at which point the DC-DC converter is switched back on, and begins to charge the capacitor bank for the next cycle.
Luckily, Dark Purple has opted not to release his method out into the wild yet. The good-guy hacker said that it was "cool to have, not to be applied."