The Kill Chain – Facts behind the Fiction Part 2

Killer USB sticks

The Kill Chain is the cybercrime thriller from Scotland’s newest writer, GJ Scobie, published by Darkstroke publishing, in the summer of 2022. This blog post is one in a series called Facts behind the Fiction, in which I take an aspect of the plot and provide factual background material, giving an insight into the real world of cyber security and those who work tirelessly to defend our networks and data.

So, what are Killer USB Sticks?

First of all, any USB stick could be suspect. They can be setup to trigger malware and open a backdoor – a connection to the internet – through which a cybercriminal may be able to spy on you and steal your credentials. Surveys indicate that almost one out of two people will plug a USB stick they find into their laptop just to see what is on it. Never do this. It may contain malware or a virus; it may contain data and images that are illegal to be in possession of. You do not want to do this. Don’t let your curiosity get the better of you. The USB drop, as we call it, is a method by which cyber criminals can infiltrate an organization, leaving USB sticks outside buildings, and relying on human curiosity to install them.

The Killer USB is something you are unlikely to come across, but worth knowing about. It may look like an ordinary USB stick, but it is designed to send high-voltage power surge into the laptop, damaging the hardware. They can be commercially purchased with the view of being able to test the surge protection of the device it is plugged into. Clearly, unprotected equipment is at risk. These are not toys.

Further details can be found on the web if you are interested in the technicalities.

Next time, where did the inspiration come from?


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