This USB ‘kill cord’ can instantly wipe your laptop if snatched or stolen

Journalists, campaigners, and human rights advocates are always fighting to protect their data from an increasing number of cyber-threats and monitoring.

Physical attacks, whether by a snatch-and-grab robber or an oppressive government pounding down someone’s door, can be difficult to protect against.

BusKill unveiled a special USB magnetic breakaway cable this week that functions as a “dead man’s switch,” locking a computer if it is physically snatched and the magnetic connections are severed.

BusKill has been in the works as a do-it-yourself project for more than two years.

The source code could be compiled by anybody with the necessary hardware, but it only ran on Linux, and the components rapidly sold out.

The cable is currently available for purchase beginning at $59 and comes with a companion software that works on macOS, Windows, and Linux,

Allowing users to effortlessly arm and disarm the cable with the press of a button.

“Most individuals aren’t dealing with top-secret papers from whistleblowers and scared about the secret police showing up at their door,

But that’s the degree of danger that I developed BusKill for,” Michael Altfield, the project’s developer,

“I also wanted it to be accessible to journalists who aren’t necessarily Linux users or who aren’t familiar with the CLI [command line interface].”

BusKill is meant to lock your computer when it’s physically away from you,

But Linux users can also set it to send a self-destruct command, which scrambles the device’s cryptographic keys and renders the data unusable in seconds.

When the magnetic wire is broken, the project hopes to unleash triggers that shut off the computer.

Although BusKill was created with journalists and activists in mind,

Altfield claims that the wire may also safeguard the laptops of vacationers and other high-risk users, such as cryptocurrency dealers.

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