zervanko
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Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:45 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLKF75uCVZM - the Raspberry Pi 2 (LAN9514) can be broken by USB Killer. But as I see here https://www.microchip.com/wwwproducts/en/LAN9514 it has "Built-in ±8kV/15kV contact/air discharge ESD protection on both USB and Ethernet PHYs", so why USB Killer can desroy the board?

Heater
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:54 pm

Perhaps the USB killer goes up to 15001 volts :)
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:58 pm

Heater wrote:
Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:54 pm
Perhaps the USB killer goes up to 15001 volts :)
[MOD EDIT - LINK REMOVED] , see here:
Output voltage: -215 VDC

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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:25 pm

After watching the video on the device web site , it destroyed or damaged every device it was plugged in to including a raspberry pi.

So what were you expecting if it can destroy laptops, phones , games consoles etc, which cost much more than a pi and I would hope better protected than a pi.

This device is obviously designed to test devices to destruction, as nothing seems to have stood up to the devices output, you only have their word for what voltage is being output.
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:42 pm

The device applies high voltage levels to short circuit the components of a system. Think of of it as stun gun for printed circuits.
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:48 pm

Protection on the LAN9514 is for ESD (electrostatic discharge), which is high voltage but very low current, if one excludes direct lightening strikes.
The USB Killer can provide sufficient current to overwhelm static protection, even though it is (comparatively) low voltage.
NB 215VDC is still enough to kill or cause fire.
Although marketed as a test device, USB killer is clearly designed and intended to destroy anything it "tests".
A pulse current "≥180A" is repeated "to destruction".
Note the warnings on the website.
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:33 am

Why on earth would people need to use a device like this? It does one thing - permanently destroy the USB circuitry. It has no other purpose. Claims of 'pentesting' etc are rubbish. This is simply a mechanism for causing criminal damage. You may as well just sell a club hammer as a penetration testing tool.
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:26 am

"Why touching a live 220v bare electrical wire with wet bare hands gets you electrocuted?"

... was the question that popped in the mind the moment I read the topic....
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:55 am

jamesh wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:33 am
It does one thing - permanently destroy the USB circuitry. It has no other purpose.
Much as I hate having to defend the device itself, and would never defend malicious use of it, it is a lot more complicated than that.

We would not label PAT testers and insulation testers as devices whose only purpose is to destroy things and that is really all it is.

The manufacturers and sellers of these devices use the argument that devices under test should not be vulnerable to high voltage attacks and their devices simply tests if they are or are not - Better to test and find out than not test and find out to your detriment later it is vulnerable.

Their argument is that it's no more wrong to use the device to test for the vulnerability it tests for than it is to set fire to pyjamas, sofas or curtains to test their non-flammability or to shoot at a window to put its claim of being bulletproof to the test. To them, failing the tests simply means it's vulnerable to the test undertaken. And that is correct.

The problem is that argument disregards whether anything should be immune to such a potentially destructive test in the first place, should be expected to be, the consequences when it isn't, and when testing is done in the expectation of failure and destruction rather than expectation of passing and being undamaged.

Used maliciously, with the intent of inflicting damage and destruction, is the wrong. That is no different to shooting or stabbing someone to prove guns and knives are dangerous, setting fire to a high rise building's cladding to prove it's not as safe as some may claim.

Its use is entirely justified where informed consent has been given and the consequences have been entirely and fully understood and accepted otherwise there is no justification.

It's just like guns, knives, anything which may be useful in the preparation of terrorism, A-to-Z maps etc, it is the intent and how they are used which is the issue, not the products themselves which is the problem.

But it has to be acknowledged that for these particular devices there is no realistic expectation that product would be immune to applying a high voltage in the way it does. It can be predicted using this device would most likely cause damage and destruction.

There are therefore very few legitimate reasons why anyone would buy such a device; the most likely reason would be with the intent to use it in a malicious manner, to deliberately cause damage and harm others.

But, like guns and knives; that's a people problem. USB killers don't destroy products; people using USB killers do.

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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Mon Jun 25, 2018 12:33 pm

As you intimated, this device WILL destroy ALL devices it is plugged in to (see comments on their own page). Because those devices are not designed to withstand what these devices are doing, because there is simply no requirement to withstand. This isn't preventing or testing an attack vector, it's simply destroying the circuitry. Unless of course you intentionally WANT to destroy the circuitry to stop people using it. And hope there is no collateral damage.

You could put a USB plug on the end of a 240v power cable much more cheaply. And dangerously.


Its a bit like saying I'm going in to the windscreen testing business using a sledge hammer. Clearly if the windscreen fails when I stand on the bonnet/hood and whack it as hard as a I can, it was defective. However, every single windscreen with I have tested fails straight away with my 20lb/9kg sledge. I beginning to wonder if my testing procedure is a bit defective.
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:23 pm

Why would anyone spend €55 to get a device to destroy the motherboard in a €400 laptop (and possibly take the harddrive/SSD with it)? It makes no sense. They're not protecting anyone from anything. They may demonstrate that Joe Bloggs shouldn't plug that random device that appeared on their desk into their laptop because they don't know what effect it may have, but we all know that already.

They claim Apple devices can withstand the attack. I wouldn't want to test that on a €800 Apple thing if I had one.

So for €55 you can buy a device to trash your €35 Raspberry Pi - good choice, not.
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:34 pm

You can drop an apple device on the floor and watch it crack.
Priorities seem to be wrong here.

Which is more likely to happen.

Oh and if Apple devices can withstand the attack, then just make a better device that it cannot.

What is is actually trying to emulate that a usb port should be able to withstand?

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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:46 pm

There's nothing in the USB spec about surge protection. So they're testing something that's "out of spec". There's some protection for 5V at more than 1.8A but not hundreds of volts.

I like James analogy to windscreen testing with a sledge hammer. That reminds me about the [apocryphal] story of VC10 aircraft windscreen testing at Weybridge (Brooklands) for bird strikes - where they forgot to defrost the test chickens (and even more fancifully the next day fired the defrosted chicken and the cat). http://www.vc10.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=662 https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/catapoultry/
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:32 pm

DougieLawson wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:46 pm
There's nothing in the USB spec about surge protection. So they're testing something that's "out of spec". There's some protection for 5V at more than 1.8A but not hundreds of volts.

I like James analogy to windscreen testing with a sledge hammer. That reminds me about the [apocryphal] story of VC10 aircraft windscreen testing at Weybridge (Brooklands) for bird strikes - where they forgot to defrost the test chickens (and even more fancifully the next day fired the defrosted chicken and the cat). http://www.vc10.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=662 https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/catapoultry/
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:54 pm

Just my 2 pence worth, but if the manufacturer isn't aware of the potential malicous use, and isn't tacitly encouraging it, why would they be selling an "Anonymous Edition" and charing a premium for it?

No sane engineer would want that, the risk of accidental damage is just too high.
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:59 pm

jamesh wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:32 pm
Finally got a car analogy in that wasn't shot down at the first hurdle!!!
Not shooting it down but one would expect certain people's car windscreens to have been tested by hitting them with a sledgehammer, especially when intended to mitigate exactly that kind of attack.

If you were having to buy a car which had a windscreen which was sledgehammer proof would you not want to see that proven before trusting your life to claims that it was ? You'd want to see that sledgehammer test.

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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:10 pm

thagrol wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:54 pm
Just my 2 pence worth, but if the manufacturer isn't aware of the potential malicous use, and isn't tacitly encouraging it, why would they be selling an "Anonymous Edition" and charing a premium for it?

No sane engineer would want that, the risk of accidental damage is just too high.
(Yeah, yeah quoting myself I know)

To extend the above to hippy's terrorism example, it's the difference between a steel kinfe and a ceramic one*. One will show on metal dectors, the other is being intentionally sold to avoid detection.

*Slightly simplified, most over the counter ceramic knives have a steel insert somewhere in them so they will show up on metal dectors.
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:12 am

hippy wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:59 pm
jamesh wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:32 pm
Finally got a car analogy in that wasn't shot down at the first hurdle!!!
Not shooting it down but one would expect certain people's car windscreens to have been tested by hitting them with a sledgehammer, especially when intended to mitigate exactly that kind of attack.

If you were having to buy a car which had a windscreen which was sledgehammer proof would you not want to see that proven before trusting your life to claims that it was ? You'd want to see that sledgehammer test.
Sure, a few mafia henchmen may want a sledgehammer-proof windscreen, but what possible use does THIS drvice serve aside from proving a device immune to this 'testing' device.
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:47 am

zervanko,
...has "Built-in ±8kV/15kV contact/air discharge ESD protection on both USB and Ethernet PHYs", so why USB Killer can desroy the board?
The critical thing here is "ESD protection"

ESD = Electro Static Discharge

That is to say protecting it from the static electricity that naturally builds up on equipment and people, mostly caused by friction as they move around.

I'm sure you are familiar with those little electric shocks you feel in your fingers as you touch things sometimes. Especially in dry weather. Cats are famous for becoming statically charged when rubbed with glass or plastic rods and such. It's a fun experiment to do.

Such static charges can amount to thousands of volts but there is very little energy in them. Protection circuitry can easily dissipate that energy without damage. Such static charge build up is very common so protecting the delicate transistors of equipment as they are exposed to the outside world is essential.

That is very different from applying large amounts of energy at high voltage. Which is going to do damage somewhere as it is dissipated.

It's interesting to speculate what a USB input would have to look like to be protected against the USB killer. Good quality multimeters have over voltage protection up to 600 volts or so. They have fuses, MOV transient voltage suppression, large spaces between components so that voltage does not jump around the place, generously insulated cables and so on. They are huge!
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:57 am

I'm just building a PiKiller, as I think all Pi should pass the test.
I think £50 would be a good market price for it.
I'll just rebrand one of these 12V PSU's you can now buy and add a micro usb connector.

also a GPIOKiller, a header and a bit of strip board and some solder should make it cheaply.

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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:13 am

I like just about all hacks of one sort or other,
but this just leaves me cold, as it quite deliberately causes costly damage (and criminal if it's not your device).
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:56 am

I'm undecided what to do with this thread.

There's clearly no other intention to this device other than deliberately causing damage. It nothing to do with penetration testing, or checking to see how robust a USB port, or security of any shape or form, it is specifically designed to permanently destroy USB ports, simply because USB ports are not designed to withstand this sort of attack.

Now, should I leave the thread up as a warning, or delete it so people don't even hear about this utterly stupid device*?



* Stupid for the people buying it, not for the people selling it, who must be laughing all the way to the bank.
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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:24 am

I'd vote for lock and leave as a warning to the unwary who like buying snake oil.

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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:17 pm

Under what circumstances would any USB connected device ever be exposed to 200V? Or even more than 5V for that matter?
I'm using a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B with 7" LCD Touch screen and Mini USB Wireless Keyboard

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Re: Why Raspberry Pi is affected by USB KIller?

Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:46 pm

R-A wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 6:17 pm
Under what circumstances would any USB connected device ever be exposed to 200V? Or even more than 5V for that matter?
Under the circumstances of a fault condition existing. Any USB connection to a device which uses mains could develop a fault which presents that mains on the USB connection.

There are stories of that having happened, reports of some people being killed when it has happened. It's why people worry so much about dodgy USB power supplies and chargers.

I have seen some mains circuitry connect 0V signals to mains earth or, even worse, neutral. That's a potential disaster waiting to happen.

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