WTF?! A self-destructing, open-source USB stick that can heat its flash chip to 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) has almost reached its crowdfunding goal. Not only does the device boast a Mission Impossible-style self-kill ability, but it also has a secret feature that hides data unless you plug it in the correct way.
Ryan Walker of Interrupt Labs is crowdfunding the privacy-focused, open-hardware Ovrdrive USB flash drive on Crowd Supply. It comes with a clever privacy feature: plug the drive in normally and the partition will be hidden, making it appear broken, but insert Ovrdrive quickly three consecutive times, and the read/write functionality works.
The initial plan was for the drive to destroy itself, but Walker found this difficult to reproduce when manufacturing the drive in large numbers. However, the self-destruction circuitry has been left in its original state for the final product, so it can still be used if you want.
The Ovrdrive’s circuitry can invert the voltage supply to the flash chip, heating it up to 100 degrees Celsius. It’s noted that this temperature might not be enough to destroy the chip, but it can certainly act as a catalyst for a DIY “self-destruct” implant that buyers could design, build, and place inside the enclosure. Walker writes that the feature is disabled by default so you don’t accidentally activate it.
The first version of Ovrdrive required users to wet their fingers to activate the flash drive, writes CNX Software, which sounds interesting if potentially unhygienic.
The drive is designed for journalists working in hostile environments, security researchers, hardware hackers, and anyone interested in open hardware. Some countries, such as Iran, outlaw the use of encryption that prevents “authorized individuals” from accessing data, computers, and telecommunication systems. It’s these locations where Ovrdrive could be especially useful. But Walker does emphasize that the drive is meant to be used in conjunction with encryption in those locations that allow it, not as a replacement.
Ovrdrive is set to launch in August 2024 with a $69 price tag and free shipping (or $12 for international shipping). The campaign has raised $2,922 of its $3,500 goal at the time of writing, meaning it is 83% funded with 24 days still left.
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