College grad returns to alma mater to destroy computer lab

Generally speaking, recordings of college pranks can be funny. However, former students who return to their old schools to tape practical jokes aren’t as amusing. Moreover, university shenanigans aren’t funny at all when they result in nearly $60,000 in damage.

On April 16, a New York man pled guilty to a bizarre crime, using a USB killer to destroy 66 computers belonging to the Albany-based College of Saint Rose. The perpetrator, 27-year-old Saint Rose graduate Vishwanath Akuthota, faces 15 years in prison for destroying 66 university computers.

As with many modern criminals, Akuthota implicated himself by recording his crime spree.

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Caught on Camera

The former student allegedly videotaped himself using a USB killer device to wreck $58,471 in university property.

USB killers are malicious electronic devices that prompt other electronics to self-destruct. When connected to a computer, the drive directs the machine to rapidly charge and discharge its power components. Consequently, the compromised device overloads its electrical system and becomes permanently inoperative.

Akuthota earned a business master’s degree from Saint Rose in 2017. Subsequently, he allegedly returned to his alma mater and wrecked more than five dozen university-owned electronic devices. In his recordings, the ex-student reportedly said: “I’m going to kill this guy,” before plugging in his malicious USB drive.

As such, Akuthota is both an inept criminal and pun maker. Universal serial bus killer is a popsicle stick level joke at best.

No Motive But the Obvious

FBI agents arrested Akuthota in North Carolina on Feb. 22. Akuthota was in the United States on a student visa. At his Tuesday hearing, the alleged vandal agreed to pay restitution to the University of Saint Rose for the computers he annihilated.

Currently, he is scheduled to face sentencing on Aug. 12. If U.S. District Court Judge Mae D’Agostino hits Akuthota with the maximum penalty for his crimes, he’ll be sent to prison for 15 years and will have to pay a fine of $250,000.

Curiously, the federal government’s complaint against the ex-business major didn’t list a motive. However, given that he recorded himself committing a crime with an obvious comedic undertone, infamy is a probable inducement.

Psychologist Pamela Rutledge told The Guardian that social media now serves as a platform for attention hungry criminals. “The audience is larger now and, perhaps, more seductive to those who are committing antisocial acts to fill personal needs of self-aggrandizement.”

Late last year, a hacker repurposed 50,000 printers to generate material in support of YouTube celebrity PewDiePie. The prankster publicized his gag in real time via Twitter. On a much darker note, the shooter who killed 50 people in the New Zealand massacre took to Facebook Live to broadcast his massacre.

The practice of people using social media to memorialize their harmless and unconscionable crimes is a quantifiable trend. More disturbingly, there is evidence to suggest that recorded acts of destruction are just another form of highly sharable, and therefore lucrative content.

However, it is unknown how governments, corporations, and individuals should address the situation.

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