Watch What You Plug In: USB Devices the Next Threat

August 7, 2014, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

With modern desktops and laptops heavily relying on USB devices ranging from keyboards to external storages, a new threat has emerged. This one is a concern  and has all in it to make you helpless.

We are talking about the new form of hacking  and the USB is in the centre of it all.

A new research has revealed that the USB devices could make the device attached to it vulnerable to serious threats.


A firmware re-coding in the USB devices can assist them in hacking your system.  The sad part about the whole thing is that users can do nothing to even detect a possible threat from the USB device.

Karsten Nohl, chief scientist with Berlin’s SR Labs, who has come up with the research has been quoted as saying that it is impossible to detect the firmware threats coded in the USB devices. This is because none of the antivirus software are capable of scanning the firmware.

This exploits any malicious code to be structured into the firmware that can cause data retrieval, injecting virus or even fatally destroying any software. As of now, if a system is hit with USB hacking, there seems no possible remedy for it.

Nohl carried out the hacking, along with Jokob Lell, security researcher at SR Labs.

Spiteful codes were loaded into the firmware of thumb-drives and mobile phones and they found the coding can be contagious.

usb 2

The coding can transform any of the USB devices wired to the system, which then connected to another PC, gets transformed so and on.

In a presentation titled “Bad USB-  On Accessories That Turn Evil”, Nohl and Jakob Lell will be briefing the experiment carried out for the USB hacking this week at the Black Hat hacking conference. Hackers sure may be looking forward to know more about it.


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