If you plug this little USB drive into your computer, you won't have time to do anything to avoid your fate. It's too late. Your computer is fried.
Normally, the last thing a hacker wants to do is destroy your computer. There's too much lucrative private data stored inside. Viruses that actively damage or destroy computer hardware are few and far between. But they're out there, and this one is a doozy.
Watch it in action:
This USB device isn't actually a virus by definition. It doesn't load any malicious software onto your computer. It doesn't even have to be plugged into a computer. Any electronic device with a USB port can be fried by this little gadget.
It's called USB Killer v2.0 and it was shared on a Russian hacking site by somebody who goes by the name of "Dark_Purple." Here's a photo of the gadget up close so you know what it looks like.
Keep in mind, the guts of this killer thumb drive could be in any kind of case, so you won't necessarily be able to recognize it by this picture. You also won't be able to defend against it using anti-viruses or disabling your USB drives from automatically running a removable device.
That's because this drive works by sucking up an electrical charge from your computer, storing it in capacitors until it hits 220 volts, then blasting it back into the machine. It's like a little power surge that repeats and repeats until your motherboard is completely fried.
Fortunately, it should only affect the motherboard. Your hard drive shouldn't be damaged or lose any data. Unfortunately, it means the only way you can protect yourself is to only ever use trusted USB drives. This is something you should be doing anyway.
Unknown thumb drives can contain anything from viruses to spyware to nasty tricks like this one. Keep track of your trusted thumb drives and be careful plugging in any that you get from strangers.