Reading Time: 2 minutes

BusKill is a cheap USB cable that kills your Linux laptop if stolen in a public place. Designed by Micheal Altfield, a software engineer, the BusKill is like a dead man’s switch to shut down or wipe a Linux laptop if stolen from your desk, mall, or internet cafe. designed by Michael Altfield, a software engineer and Linux

Altfield works as a Linux sysadmin from Orlando, Florida has developed the BusKill, it connects to your Linux Laptop and your belt at the other end. If some try to steal the laptop from the desk or your lap, the USB cable disconnects and triggers a udev script [1, 2, 3] that executes a series of preset operations.

You can program can be designed to activate your screensaver or shut down your laptop. This will force the thieves to bypass your laptop’s authentication mechanism before they manage to access your data. The script can also be programmed to wipe out the entire contents of your laptop ie. it can wipe the device or delete certain folders. This will disable the thieves from accessing your sensitive data or secure business backends.

Altfield said, “We do what we can to increase our OpSec when using our laptop in public-such as using a good VPN provider, 2FA, and password database auto-fill to prevent network or shoulder-based eavesdropping. But even then, there’s always a risk that someone could just steal your laptop after you’ve authenticated!”

The BusKill cables are available on Alfield’s website, though they are not ready-made, at least for now. He has mentioned detailed instructions on how anyone can build their own BusKill cables.

All you need to get started is a USB flash drive, a carabiner keyring to attach the BusKill cable to your belt, a USB magnetic breakaway adapter, and the actual USB cable. The entire build would cost you around $20 to $45 depending on the BusKill configuration required for your device and the sturdiness of its components.

The Linux sysadmin has also mentioned two sample udev scripts, one locks your device by activating the screensaver and the other shuts down your laptop. In case you want to wipe data or delete sensitive folders, you will need to build your own scripts. These will depend on the location and type of data they want to delete.