I'm writing a sci-fi series about a woman that can control wireless tech with implants. Is it possible (even theoretically) for her to burn out enemy computer systems (maybe by triggering a power surge)?
Could this be achieved if she somehow shut down the components that were regulating current in the device, thus frying circuits with more power than they were built to handle?
There has been occasions where running hardware at full load has created enough heat to damage the components. Though this is rare because typically you don't allow the software to control the hardware so it can break, it's because of a design flaw it's been possible.
In a sci-fi the hardware doesn't need to be designed as it is today, so yes if there was some software controlling current then you could go with that she switch it off.
Especially if the hardware is more than simple computers and in control of more than a CPU then surely there's no end to the things that could go wrong.
Any hardware that has flashable ROM can be bricked. The damage wouldn't be permanent if you know what to do, but would otherwise make the hardware inoperable.
Power surge damage is possible, provided power is under software control. In most devices, that's not the case. However, if you can think of some way for your protagonist to generate an EMP, that would induce a current in all electrically-conductive lines of any kind, and could physically damage hardware.
Search for stuxnet, this is probably the least dramatic document about it – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuxnet
Stuxnet altered temperature readings, until hardware overheated and failed.
Someone asked the same question as yours here:
Generally speaking, the attacker needs to have expert knowledge in a piece of hardware and its firmware and the surrounding platform to reach in to do that damage, I'm not sure to what extent code is allowed to control minute aspects of components on a motherboard for example to change the voltage to allow unregulated voltage to pass through, the power supply unit (PSU) has multiple output channels, some are smaller wattage than others, and if there is the external power source is stable at standard, then how can you cause a surge without an actual surge? There are no connections from the CPU to the PSU to regulate current flow, the PSU handles that by itself.
Attack the BIOS and turn up the clock multiplier and voltage settings as far as it will go… overclock the CPU to death. Most business machines have only basic case fans or a small CPU cooler.
Attack the disk storage and encrypt all data. This is a common attack now, called ransomware, and it works.
Attack the system by opening an infinite number of 1-pixel-square windows after a specific trigger action
Go way back and attack the system by deleting all files with certain extensions… like .exe and .com
You can't really control hard drives like you used to be able to, where an attacker could actually destroy hard drives by bashing the read/write heads against the stops.
Attack the user input… remap the keyboard to format C: no matter what key you press, or 1st press issues Format C: and second keypress is always Y.
Attack and re-write any flashable ROM in the system, like the BIOS, or on any attached peripherals.
Just have fun with it!
its impossible to DIRECTLY damage hardware through a cyber attack its easy to damage it though secondary means…
if the computer system controlled the generator output a sudden massive spike could fry major power circuits (as well as most if not all of the ships systems).
A cyber attack destroyed most of Iran's nuclear enrichment centrifuges.