Accused of Using “USB Killer Device” to Destroy Dozens of Computers
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Vishwanath Akuthota, age 26, of Albany, was arrested on February 22 in North Carolina after being charged with intentionally causing damage to protected computers owned by The College of Saint Rose in Albany.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith; Chief Eric Hawkins of the Albany Police Department (APD); and James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
According to a criminal complaint, on February 14, 2019, Akuthota entered numerous locations around the Saint Rose campus and inserted a device into more than 50 computers used by students. 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 damage exceeds $50,000. The charges in the complaint are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Akuthota is a citizen of India, residing in the United States on a student visa.
Akuthota appeared in federal court in Raleigh, North Carolina, where a United States Magistrate Judge ordered him detained and transported to the Northern District of New York.
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. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.
This case is being investigated by the APD and the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne A. Myers.