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College of Saint Rose Student Uses ‘USB Killer’ to Destroy Computers Worth $60K

Illustration of cybercrime (Photo credit should read "HELMUT FOHRINGER/APA-PictureDesk via AFP") Helmut Fohringer / APA-PictureDesk / APA
HELMUT FOHRINGER/APA-PictureDesk via AFP
TOM CICCOTTA

A former student at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, destroyed nearly $60,000 worth of computers with a USB device that instantly kills computers.

Vishwanath Akuthota, a 27-year-old former masters student, now faces up to ten years in prison for his decision to destroy nearly $60,000 worth of college computers. The student used a device called a “USB Killer” which is designed to instantly overload a computer’s internal electrical system. According to a report, Akuthota even filmed himself while he destroyed the computers. “I’m going to kill this guy,” the student said to himself as he placed the USB device into one of the computer’s USB port.

“The ‘USB Killer’ device, when inserted into a computer’s USB port, sends a command causing the computer’s on-board capacitors to rapidly charge and then discharge repeatedly, thereby overloading and physically destroying the computer’s USB port and electrical system,” the U.S. Attorney’s office wrote in a press release.

In a plea agreement announced on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York revealed that Akuthota destroyed 66 computers with his USB device in addition to other computer equipment.

Akuthota admitted that on February 14, 2019, he inserted a “USB Killer” device into 66 computers, as well as numerous computer monitors and computer-enhanced podiums, owned by the college in Albany.  The “USB Killer” device, when inserted into a computer’s USB port, sends a command causing the computer’s on-board capacitors to rapidly charge and then discharge repeatedly, thereby overloading and physically destroying the computer’s USB port and electrical system.

It is still unclear why Akuthota, who graduated from The College of Saint Rose in 2017 with a master’s degree in business administration, decided to destroy the computers. Akuthota is a citizen of India. He faces sentencing on August 12.

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