The USB Killer showed this week that the this years 2017’s flagship phones are vulnerable to power surge attacks.

The USB Killer is a thumb-drive sized device that tests the resistance of electronics to a USB Power Surge Attack called USB Kill v3.

“The USB Power Surge vulnerability is a common flaw in products with USB connections today,” said Steve Benson, technician from makers o9f the USB kill v3. “Whether it be to cut corners, save money, or unfamiliarity with the flaw, manufacturers do not protect the data lines of devices, which leaves them open to crippling attacks.

“Internal and community testing reveals all industries are affected: not only consumer electronics such as telephones, laptops, and televisions, but also many critical industrial systems including aeroplane systems, medical devices and control hardware.”

The USB Kill Vv3 collects current from the power lines from a USB port, temporarily charging to 240V, which is immediately discharged into the data lines. This process is repeated multiple times per second, and typically causes catastrophic failure on unprotected systems.

Testing of the Apple iPhone 8 and Samsung Note 8 exposed that both were vulnerable to USB Power Surge Attacks, with the iPhone fairing the worst.

The iPhone suffered several critical failures:

  • Destroyed data lines (removing data transfer ability)
  • Destroyed power lines (rendering the phone unable to charge)
  • Permanent boot-loop (rendering the phone unusable)

The Note 8 performed slightly better:

  • Destroyed data lines (removing data transfer ability)
  • Destroyed rapid-charge ability (allowing charging through computer or 3rd party chargers only)

The Samsung didn’t completely die and extended testing showed the Samsung lost its ability to charge the device with its own charger, but the computer and other chargers worked.

However the iPhone 8 is a step backwards for Apple from the iPad and iPhone 7.

Moral of the story… be careful what you plug your phone into, especially if you buy the iPhone8