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53

When actually running programs, the load on the CPU can cause the core temperature to rise. While newer technologies have some effect (dynamic frequency & voltage scaling), this is still mostly because certain instructions use different electrical pathways in the microprocessor (as opposed to when the processor is simply in an idle or low power state). ...


47

The first rule about computer security: If I can touch it, I own all data on it. There are no exceptions to this rule. Physical access = game over. It may take time, but once physical access is obtained, there is nothing you can do to stop a security breach. If you are loaning him the laptop, he certainly has access to every file on that laptop if he wants ...


21

It would seem that Kensington has identified the lack of a lock slot on ultrabooks and the like. They have a solution: Security Slot Adapter Kit for Ultrabook™ That they sell here: Security Slot Adapter Kit for Ultrabook™ and at the time of this post, it seems resonably priced at $12.99 US.


12

There was always that warning that some older CRT monitors, if given a video signal beyond the frequencies they could handle, might suffer damage. I don't know which ones but it was a common disclaimer given when you were adjusting refresh rates or manual resolution settings. Basically unless a system doesn't have proper cooling or a proper power supply ...


10

Your power supply, if it explodes, won't do quite the same damage as the one in Die Hard. Sorry to disappoint. An engaging article highlighting a variant of software causes hardware damage recently appeared in Wired regarding the Stuxnet virus. Software causing command and control software to physically damage nuclear centrifuges. It's just kind of amazing. ...


8

Kensington does have a device that actually locks arms in place around the screens...depending on the exact laptop in question it may interfere with the visuals, though. They claim it will work on any standard 13"-17" laptop. Laptop Locking Station


7

If I considered the person a true friend in the traditional sense, I wouldn't really worry about it. Would you loan this person keys to your house or car? Anything you really were worried about anyway should be in an high grade encryption volume that requires a key entry on every use since Dropbox isn't really secure anyway.


7

Historically, there have been a few cases where hardware design flaws have made it possible to directly and immediately damage a machine. In one case, a single-line instruction could cause a computer to short-circuit and catch fire, IIRC. But the cases I heard of were on old 8 bit micros. Apparently, the term is "Killer Poke", but I just turned that up in a ...


7

Aside from overstressing the hardware, there are firmware viruses, which could wreck hardware not by physically damaging it, but simply by making it inoperable (which might as well be "physical," since the hardware can no longer be used in any system).


5

I damaged a floppy drive once, programing an assembly code to move the head out of the usual limits. The drive stopped working, and I could do that with 2 other drives. But lots of people doubt it at that time and I never gave attention to the subject again. There is some discussion whether rewriting a BIOS (like old virus did) is physical damage, but many ...


4

run a CPU so hard that the ceramic actually breaks No, it is impossible to do anything to a CPU in software to cause "the ceramic [to] break". Although it is possible on some CPUs to change frequency or power control modes such that the die overheats, or to change outputs such that the transistors sink or source too much current (which depends how ...


4

Basically if you leave your device on area where no one controls the physical actions taken, the Kensington lock is not going to prevent your equipment from being stolen. So choosing an item that's hard to move without drawing much attention works as well. One good item are bar chairs or table with similar structure: both ends widening considerably and ...


3

Many years ago, I had a DAT (digital audio tape) drive set up as a computer backup drive. You could only write to it indirectly, via Retrospect (backup software). Then I found some software that let you actually mount the drive -- use it like a hard drive. It worked... for a few weeks... and then the tape drive burned out. The tape heads just weren't ...


3

Once you get away from regular desktop computers, even non-malicious software errors can cause spectacular hardware failures: The Mars Climate Orbiter - over $500 million spent on misson, destroyed by a metric-to-imperial conversion error. Ariane 5 Flight 501 - destroyed by an integer overflow bug, resulting loss of rocket and onboard spacecraft costing ...


3

Most of us just write code for simple little computers and it's unlikely that this could happen. When you're interfacing with mechanical machines it becomes more likely. Recently the worm Stuxnet was created to attack Siemens software that controls gas centrifuges which is used in the process of enriching Uranium. It would make the centrifuges spin at ...


3

you can stop USB from being used by following the steps in this article: How can I prevent users from using USB removable disks (USB flash drives) by using Group Policy (GPO)? as far as asking for a password otgher than removing admin rights from the users I'm unaware of a way to prompt for access. In a windows environment confidential data should be ...


2

It partially depends on the constraints imposed on the hardware when it was designed. If the computer is attached a bomb that it was designed to set off, you can probably pretty effectively destroy the hardware with software. Prevent direct access to the detonator, however, and the hardware is safe. To damage hardware, with software, you'd need: hardware ...


2

The most straightforward way to damage hardware is in the case of embedded systems, where you can access the individual pins of a microcontroller. You can just set an input to be an output or vice versa, and cause a short circuit. The only way I can imagine this being useful to damage PC is if you have access, and are being able to modify to the firmware of ...


2

Mandrake Linux had a bug with LG CDROM years ago http://www.linux.com/archive/feed/32318 . The bug was famous at moment.


2

Certainly it's possible to cause damage on many systems, if you can get into the BIOS level controls. Simply turning off the fan and then running a compute-intensive program will cause damage on many systems (though some contain hardwired thermal limiters). In some systems you can adjust voltages via program, etc, and in a few you can adjust processor duty ...


2

Yes, at least for poorly designed hardware. However, modern hardwares have to comply with various safety regulations, which limits their ability to damage itself. Modern CPU will shut off when overheating, modern Harddisk/CD/DVD/Bluray drive have predefined speed, etc; there are all kinds of safety mechanism put in place by hardware manufacturers to prevent ...


2

Here's a more practical solution as compared to locks using the USB port or even the glue-on type. VGA port type lock looks reliable but Ultrabook only comes with a mini VGA port. http://www3.pny.com/Portable-Laptop-Locking-System-font-colordc0431-Special-Offerfont-P3227C541.aspx


2

No, Dropbox is not encrypted for the contents ON your computer. He can access the folder just fine, and virus software will be able to access it without issue


2

The dropbox is stored (default) in the users directory so if someone has access to that folder then he can read/write the files (which are unencrypted). Btw, the same is for google drive and possibly other similar services.


1

How about a metal bar against the laptop right above the keyboard, between the keyboard and the screen, so the metal bar will hold the laptop against the surface it is on. Wouldn't this work? EDIT Shinrai's post about a Kensington locking station is what I had in mind.


1

Interesting question. How about something much simpler: An movement based alarm with a small ball in contact with a level surface so that you may slide it to and fro and lift it, say 3 inches to feel the weight, all connected to a USB (individual or hub). If you yank the device itself, it rings. If you grab the laptop, again it rings loudly. No disconnect ...


1

It's probably just the CMOS battery. These batteries can take time to finally expire. It can takes weeks of intermittent behaviour before an old battery finally cannot provide enough voltage to maintain the BIOS settings.


1

Compare your CMOS battery to one in your television remote control. You won't find it has died all of a sudden. You will get intermittent use out of it maybe for another week as the last bit of life is drained from the batteries. Your CMOS battery works the same way.


1

Only if hardware is badly designed. For example software controls speed of electric motor by changing voltage, however motor is designed in the way that it will be burnt out if highest voltage used over 1 minute. You can imagine that software can easily exceed this limit. However if the motor has specific circuit cutting current if its temperature hits ...



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