It wouldn't be particularly hard to build a simple circuit that has a few small inductors that use the USB port to charge the inductors (maybe individually charged capacitors, which then the circuit connects serially) and then connect them all back across the USB (data) terminals, or the power terminals.
A fraction of a second at several times the rated current should easily kill something. Implementations of USB circuit protection would differ between manufacturers, and at the end of the day, the cheapest (likely the most inferior) implementation makes the most profit for the manufacturer.
Quite frankly, sticking a dead short across the USB power terminals might very well trip the micro-fuses, rendering the USB port useless until it's fixed.
I've rendered USB ports unusable on (older) desktop PCs by plugging the wrong external HDD into them.