Protect your data with BusKill, a dead man's switch for your laptop | Cult of Mac

Protect your data with BusKill, a dead man’s switch for your laptop

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BusKill is a USB kill cord for your laptop that protects your data if someone snatches your computer.
BusKill is a USB kill cord for your laptop that protects your data if someone snatches your computer.
Photo: Alt Shift International

Last week a crowdfunding campaign launched for the new BusKill USB kill cord. It’s a dead man’s switch for laptops designed to protect your data by locking or even wiping your computer if someone snatches it away from you while you’re using it.

BusKill is designed for journalists, activists, crypto traders and travelers, the company said. Though it seems it could come in handy for anyone at risk of losing a laptop via smash-and-grab tactics.

The BusKill crowdfunding campaign on CrowdSupply offers early-bird pricing on a full BusKill kit ($89 or the regular $99) or just the magnetic breakaway cable ($49 or the regular $59).

BusKill: world’s first laptop kill cord

Its makers said BusKill is “the world’s first laptop kill cord,” describing it as a “hardware dead man’s switch that executes a user-configurable trigger when your machine is physically separated from you.”

In other words, BusKill can protect the data stored on your encrypted device and any accounts that you’re currently logged into from the worst-case scenario of a snatch-and-run thief.

It is designed to be easy to use on Linux, Windows 10 and MacOS. The GUI app can trigger a lock screen on all three platforms. And the company said it will soon release built-in triggers to shutdown the computer when the cable disconnects.

What’s more, advanced Linux users can manually add auxiliary triggers, such as a self-destruct trigger that wipes the LUKS header, making the entire disk permanently inaccessible. However, that advanced feature is intentionally inaccessible upon startup to avoid unfortunate accidents.

Designed for tourists, journalists and activists

BusKill is useful in a wide variety of situations, the company said.

For example, it can help journalists keep their documents and their sources safe when, say, an oppressive regime’s political police suddenly raid their workplace.

BusKill can also protect a tourist’s important accounts from a snatch-and-run laptop thief when logged-in, or keep an activist’s affinity group safe when police raid an organizer’s home.

It can protect the private keys stored on a crypto trader’s machine while trading OTC or on an exchange, and generally prevent an unlocked computer from ending up in a competitor’s hands.

Features and specifications

  • Supports Linux, Windows, and macOS.
  • Open source GUI app with secure auto-update functionality for pulling future releases (such as new triggers).
  • BusKill app has arm/disarm functionality, so you can pause BusKill trigger events before locking your screen.
  • Hardware kill cable is simpler and less vulnerable to attacks than radio-based solutions.
  • Strong N52 neodymium magnets reduce the chance of accidental disconnection.

Easy to use

  1. Attach BusKill cord to your belt loop, or another secure attachment point. The company recommends attaching it to yourself in some way.
  2. Plug BusKill in.
  3. Navigate to the BusKill app on your computer and click the “arm” button. You can download the app on GitHub.

The BusKill USB kill switch cord software is open source, so you could download the program and try replicating the product at home. Of course, your version would lack the safety magnets. So maybe just buy it.

Price: $89 early-bird pricing for the full BusKill kit; $49 early-bird pricing for magnetic breakaway cable only.

Where to buy: CrowdSupply