Master criminals, serial adulterers, and other tinfoil-hat-wearers spend their lives looking over their shoulders, scared of being caught with a powered-on laptop full of incriminating information in, say, a San Francisco public library. But some simple code and an empty USB drive could make life much harder for the police.
USBKill is the latest iteration in the police/hacker technological arms race: a program that once activated, will kill a computer if there’s any activity on the USB ports. That activity could include the police installing a mouse jiggler — a tool that prevents computers from going to sleep — or just any USB drive being removed. So, tie a flash drive to your ankle, and you’ve got an instant kill switch for when the police — or the UPS guy — knocks.
To be effective, you’ll still need to have your entire hard drive encrypted, or just be running a virtual machine that would vanish on reboot. But even though it’s not a perfect solution — and probably overkill for anyone who isn’t running Silk Road 4.0 — it’s an interesting look at the tradecraft being developed by hackers and criminals for when the online war turns physical. (Paging CSI Cyber.)