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BadUSB is a security attack using USB devices that are reprogrammed with malicious software.[1]


The BadUSB attack was first revealed during a Black Hat talk in 2014 by Karsten Nohl, Sascha Krißler and Jakob Lell.

Two months after the talk, other researchers published code that can be used to exploit the vulnerability.[2]

In 2017, the USG was released, which is designed to prevent BadUSB style attacks.[3]

Technical details[edit]

USB flash drives can contain a programmable Intel 8051 microcontroller.[4]

Nohl stated: "It's the struggle between simplicity and security. The power of USB is that you plug it in and it just works. This simplicity is exactly what's enabling these attacks."[5]


Author Catalin Cimpanu from ZDNet noted that the BadUSB attack is "incredible rare". Though, in 2020, an attack was found in the wild where an hospital was attacked using a fake Best Buy gift. The attack downloaded malware through a PowerShell command which was typed in through the programmed keystrokes in the flash drive.[6]


  1. ^ "Why the Security of USB Is Fundamentally Broken". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  2. ^ "The Unpatchable Malware That Infects USBs Is Now on the Loose". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  3. ^ Doctorow, Cory (2017-03-03). "USG: an open source anti-BadUSB hardware firewall for your USB port". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  4. ^ Nohl, Karsten. "BadUSB - On accessories that turn evil" (PDF).
  5. ^ Goodin, Dan (2014-07-31). "This thumbdrive hacks computers. "BadUSB" exploit makes devices turn "evil"". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  6. ^ Cimpanu, Catalin. "Rare BadUSB attack detected in the wild against US hospitality provider". ZDNet. Retrieved 2021-09-07.