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Self-destructing Laptop Hack: Recovery Impossible

by Lambert Varias

Growing up, Hack A Day’s Caleb Kraft loved the James Bond movies. But he didn’t idolize 007. Kraft looked up to the guy who provided Bond with high tech and fortuitously plot-relevant gizmos: the Quartermaster, aka Q. To emulate his idol, Kraft decided to recreate a spy movie staple: a self-destructing gadget. A self-destructing laptop, to be specific.


Kraft took out the CD-ROM drive on a laptop and packed it with thermite. Thermite is a very explosive substance that can make short work of the laptop’s hard drive, which of course is the most vital part of the gadget. But because thermite itself is hard to ignite, Kraft made a multi-stage self-destruct mechanism. The first stage is lighting up a model rocket igniter. Kraft says this can be done via the 12v line inside a computer. The model rocket igniter will then light up a bit of gunpowder, which will light up some magnesium shavings, which finally will be hot enough to ignite the thermite. Did it work? See for yourself in the video below. You’ll see that Kraft also rigged a self-destructing external hard drive.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to Head to Hack A Day for more information about the project as well as before and after images of the laptop. This page will not self-destruct. You are not Ethan Hunt.

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