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Simple Code Turns Any USB Drive Into A Kill Switch For Your Computer

Illustration for article titled Simple Code Turns Any USB Drive Into A Kill Switch For Your Computer

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.

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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.)

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[The Register]

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DISCUSSION

I just had a vision of the feds busting in a door, and the criminal quickly pulling out his USB kill switch, jamming it in the port, jiggling it, and crying out in frustration as he turns the USB stick around the other way right before he’s tackled.