An Indian national in the US has pleaded guilty this week to destroying 59 computers at the College of St. Rose, in New York, using a weaponized USB thumb drive named “USB Killer” that he purchased online.
The incident took place on February 14, according to court documents obtained by ZDNet, and the suspect, Vishwanath Akuthota, 27, filmed himself while destroying some of the computers.
“I’m going to kill this guy,” “it’s dead,” and “it’s gone. Boom,” Akuthota said on recordings obtained by the prosecution.
The suspect destroyed 59 computers, but also seven computer monitors and computer-enhanced podiums that had open USB slots.
He did it using USB Killer, a weaponized thumb drive that he purchased from a well-known online store that sells these types of devices.
USB Killer devices work by rapidly charging thumb drive capacitors from the USB power supply, and then discharging the electrical current back into the USB slot –all in a matter of seconds– effectively frying the computer to which the USB Killer device is connected.
Equipment damages amounted to $51,109, along with $7,362 in employee time for investigating and replacing destroyed hardware, which Akuthota agreed to pay as part of the plea deal, according to court documents.
He graduated College of St. Rose in 2017 with an MBA, and on the night of the incident, he was no longer a student at the college and was residing in the US on a student visa.
Akuthota was arrested on February 22 and will be sentenced later this year, on August 12. He faces up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to 3 years.
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