Former Grad Destroys Computers with Killer USB

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A graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, has been charged with damaging college computers, according to the Department of Justice’s (DoJ's) US Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of New York.

The 26-year-old Albany resident is reportedly a citizen of India who has been in the United States on a student visa. Vishwanath Akuthota, was arrested in North Carolina, where he appeared in federal court last week on charges that he intentionally damaged protected computers owned by The College of Saint Rose in Albany. Akuthota was transported to the Northern District of New York after a US magistrate judge order him to be detained.

The allegations highlight the risks inherent in a malicious actor having physical access to campus devices. According to The College of Saint Rose website, “Classroom computer labs are free to be used only when scheduled classes are not in session. When a class is meeting, the room is not an open lab.”

Akuthota reportedly entered several different locations across the Saint Rose campus. As he went, he inserted a weaponized USB device into more than 50 student-used computers. Infosecurity Magazine reached out to the college but has not received a response. This story will be updated if we hear from the college.

“The device, which resembles a normal USB memory stick, sends a rapid series of power surges into a computer’s electrical hardware, rendering it inoperable,” the news release said. “The damage exceeds $50,000. The charges in the complaint are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

“The charge filed against Akuthota carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years.”

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