Through GitHub and Crowd Supply, Ryan Walker of Interrupt Labs (via CNX Software) is releasing a security-focused, open-source USB flash drive called Ovrdrive USB, which boasts a self-destruct mechanism that heats the flash chip to over 100 degrees Celsius.
The Ovrdrive USB is unencrypted by default, so it should still be legal in countries where encryption is otherwise illegal while providing an extra degree of (physical) security not matched by our current best flash drives.
First, the Ovrdrive USB design functions pretty simply. It’s mostly a run-of-the-mill USB flash drive with a unique activation mechanism. For it to be detected by your machine, you have to rapidly insert the drive three consecutive times actually to turn it on. Failure to do so will hide the drive’s partition and give the impression that it’s broken. Initially, it was supposed to self-destruct, but it proved too challenging to mass produce, forcing Walker to change the drive.
Nonetheless, Walker left the original destruction mechanism intact in the final product. The mechanism reverses the voltage supplied to the device to around 100 degrees Celsius. However, it may not be hot enough to kill the flash chips, but users can always add a compound for it to self-destruct. Obviously, the creator will not ship any hazardous compound with the Ovrdrive USB.
The first revision of the Ovrdrive USB featured a peculiar activation method where users used wet fingers to activate the pen drive, which meant licking their fingers before plugging in the pen drive.
As a product aimed at journalists, researchers, and others needing an extra storage security layer, the Ovrdrive USB design may be a good choice. This activation mechanism is no substitute for full encryption (particularly in countries where you can encrypt your storage). However, it still serves as an excellent security knowledge check for unwanted third-party drive users.
Fortunately, encrypting a USB drive yourself isn’t very hard— specific versions of Windows have the built-in BitLocker drive encryption feature, and VeraCrypt is also available as an open-source, highly recommended alternative. VeraCrypt is generally recommended over BitLocker, particularly if your system has a TPM module external to your CPU.
In its crowdfunding campaign on Crowd Supply, the flash drive is slated for an August 2024 release and priced at $69 with free US domestic shipping or $12 international shipping for the rest of the world. At the original time of writing, the flash drive has reached 70% of its funding, with two days remaining on the funding deadline.