Student Fried $58,000-Worth of College Computers Using 'USB Killer' Device

Illustration for article titled Student Fried $58,000-Worth of College Computers Using 'USB Killer' Device
Photo: College of Saint Rose

A 27-year-old former college student pleaded guilty on Tuesday to sticking a “USB killer” device into 66 computers at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York.


On February 14, Vishwanath Akuthota went on a technological rampage, destroying 59 Windows computers and seven Apple computers, and several digital podiums and monitors—all of which had USB slots in which Akuthota inserted a “USB killer” he bought on the internet.

According to court documents, obtained by ZDNet Akuthota recorded himself destroying the computers on his iPhone. “I’m going to kill this guy,” Akuthota said as he stuck the device into USB slots. “It’s gone. Boom... It’s dead.”

The “USB killer” works by drawing power from the USB port to quickly charge a capacitor, then discharging that power into the USB interface, frying important components. The devices can easily be purchased online, but they’re often advertised as tools meant for testing surge protection.

The College of Saint Rose spent $51,009 replacing the computers, and $7,362 on maintenance and investigation costs.

Akuthota, an Indian citizen in the country on a student visa, graduated from the College of Saint Rose with an MBA in 2017. The incident took place almost two years later, he was subsequently arrested in North Carolina eight days after the computer raid. When he is sentenced in August, he faces a fine of $250,000 and up to ten years in prison.

[ZDNet, U.S. Department of Justice]


Former senior reporter at Gizmodo



He seriously faces 10 YEARS in prison for this? I can see a big ‘ole fine and maybe a year, though that still seems excessive.