Rostec, a Russian high-tech conglomerate, has introduced a USB flash drive with a built-in detonator that can destroy the NAND memory chips inside. The detonator can be activated manually, and the resulting destruction is completely safe for the user, the manufacturer says.
Technodynamika, a Rostec company, has developed a USB drive that looks like a standard flash stick, but unlike regular drives, it not only contains a NAND memory chip and a USB-to-NAND bridge/controller, but also a battery and an electric detonator. When activated by a press of a button on the end of the device, the detonator 'burns down printed circuit board with a cumulative charge,' according to Rostec.
"This message will self-destruct in five seconds," is probably the most familiar phrase from the Mission Impossible franchise. The phrase is usually accompanied by a cinematic sequence of self-destruction, which includes burning, dissolution in acid, or something else. But in the case of Rostec's drives, the case of the device remains intact, which guarantees the owners' safety. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how Technodynamika intends to protect the destruction button from accidental activation.
Modern drives that can quickly erase their contents usually encrypt the stored data with an AES-256 key, and they just destroy the key when it is time to retire the data. Unless you have a quantum computer with formidable performance, it is impossible to break a 256-bit key in any reasonable amount of time. Yet, for true paranoids who do not want to take any chances, Rostec's method is certainly the preferable one.
"We have created a new device that is able to reliably protect information from unauthorized access: the impossibility of data recovery has been proven by the expertise," said Igor Nasenkov, chief executive of Technodynamika. "In the future, the device will be tested for safety during long-term storage, resistance to mechanical impact, and climatic factors. We are also going to work on various design options for the case."
At present Rostec only has prototype drives, but it says that it can configure both the performance and capacity for custom orders.