Author Topic: Hardware Kill Switches  (Read 672 times)

Casper

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Hardware Kill Switches
« on: February 20, 2016, 01:34:41 PM »
Another hardware idea that I think is cool: Hardware kill switches.

Basically, when you flip a kill switch, it cuts the power to a specific component.
https://puri.sm/librem-15/
The Librem laptops use kill switches for the microphone, webcam, bluetooth and wifi.
Privacy wise, this is awesome. No-one can just hack into your system and listen to your microphone even if you thought you turned it off in software.

However, looking at their product updates, it looks like they had some difficulty adjusting their case to accommodate the switches, let alone I can't find any company that sells specific switches made for this purpose, so they probably had to implement their own design. I wouldn't know what this would mean cost-wise.

This isn't a priority, nor do I know if it's feasible with what we're trying to accomplish here, but I thought it could be a great idea.

Stemby

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Re: Hardware Kill Switches
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2016, 02:45:34 PM »
+1, I like this idea.

nemesis

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Re: Hardware Kill Switches
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2016, 09:37:01 PM »
Thats a really good idea, the issue as i see it is to make it look nice.

bastian94

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Re: Hardware Kill Switches
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2016, 04:31:35 PM »
Some laptops that are aimend to the profesinol marked is using kill switch to stop all wireless communication.

alecb

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Re: Hardware Kill Switches
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2016, 04:56:24 PM »
+1. I think it's important and it will appeal to the privacy concerned crowd.
For instance other than the obvious wifi kill switch, if the laptop ends up having things like webcam I'd very much want a kill switch on that too.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2016, 05:07:25 PM by alecb »

cyrano

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Re: Hardware Kill Switches
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2016, 05:34:39 PM »
Hardware switches are (relatively) expensive. And they are hard to support for some software. Most drivers don't like it at all if the device they are driving suddenly vanishes.

That's not a problem for USB connected devices, as hotplugging was built in to the USB standard from the beginning.

It is a serious problem for PCI connected devices. And I would hope the Wifi would not be USB connected, cause that sucks bigtime. I also think there is very little chance of getting into a system over Wifi if that wifi card is off in software, as the device goes to deep sleep to save power. AFAIK there is no mechanism to enable Wifi from the outside if the chip is in deep sleep and not listening to the antenna at all.

So, for audio and video, yes, maybe a kill switch would be a good idea. For Wifi, I don't think it is needed.

mpasteven

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Re: Hardware Kill Switches
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2016, 01:39:34 AM »
It is a serious problem for PCI connected devices.

PCI is hot-pluggable and they can be removed. Servers allow for example PCI cards to be replaced during operation, and laptop systems with PCMCIA and PCI Express Card allow insertion and removal.

One thing that I would like on this laptop is an actual PCMCIA/ExpressCard slot.

cyrano

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Re: Hardware Kill Switches
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2016, 09:11:59 PM »
It is a serious problem for PCI connected devices.

PCI is hot-pluggable and they can be removed. Servers allow for example PCI cards to be replaced during operation, and laptop systems with PCMCIA and PCI Express Card allow insertion and removal.

In theory. In practice, there are only a few cards and motherboards that allow it. And there are not many drivers that still support it, since PCMCIA and external PCI Epxress have gone the way of the Dodo.

Quote
One thing that I would like on this laptop is an actual PCMCIA/ExpressCard slot.

I wouldn't mind that either. If only, to check how many cards I have that are still usable. But there isn't anything new to buy and it would add considerable cost that is beneficial to just a few users.

 

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