An Indian student, Vishwanath Akuthota, 26, of Albany, an alumnus of The College of Saint Rose, who was arrested on Feb. 22 in North Carolina and been in custody since, after being charged with intentionally causing damage to protected computers owned by the college by using a “USB killer device,” pled guilty on April 16, to destroying computer equipment and causing more than $58,000 in damage.
United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, Grant C. Jaquith, who announced Akuthota’s guilty plea along with James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and chief Eric Hawkins of the Albany Police Department (APD), said that Akuthotahad admitted that on Feb. 14, he had inserted a “USB Killer” device into 66 computers, as well as numerous computer monitors and computer-enhanced podiums, owned by the college in Albany.
The “USB Killer” device, when inserted into a computer’s USB port, sends a command causing the computer’s on-board capacitors to rapidly charge and then discharge repeatedly, thereby overloading and physically destroying the computer’s USB port and electrical system.
Akuthota, according to Jaquith, had admitted that he intentionally destroyed the computers, and recorded himself doing so using his iPhone, including making statements such as “I’m going to kill this guy” before inserting the USB Killer into a computer’s USB port.
He also admitted that his actions caused $58,471 in damage, and has agreed to pay restitution in that amount to the college.
On Feb. 14, Jaquith in unveiling the criminal complaint, said that Akuthota entered numerous locations around the Saint Rose campus and inserted a device into more than 50 computers used by students.
At the time, Jaquith said that Akuthota, a citizen of India, residing in the U.S. on a student visa, had appeared in federal court in Raleigh, North Carolina, where a federal judge ordered he be detained and then extradited to the Northern District of New York.
When he is sentenced on Aug. 12, by United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino, he faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to 3 years.