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This miniature PC only works if you have the key

Passwords are all well and good (when they work), but if someone has physical access to your hard drive, even the best passwords may not be enough to keep your data safe. Orwl (pronounced Orwell) is an open-source, miniature PC that’s designed solve that problem for security conscious users. Instead of relying on software to keep your data, Orwl takes a multi-angle approach to securing your hardware.

before the computer can boot, it needs to be unlocked with an NFC key fob

First, before the computer is able to boot at all, it needs to be unlocked with a key fob via NFC. Then, Orwl uses Bluetooth to stay connected to the key, locking the computer if it travels out of range. Next, the encryption key for the fully encrypted SSD is stored in a secure microcontroller that verifies the integrity of the system on boot up before it provides the key to unlock the hard drive. Lastly, the entire system is encased in an active mesh that prevents physical access to any of the internal hardware. If the mesh is broken, cut, drilled, or removed in any way, the microcontroller immediately deletes the SSD encryption key, locking the system and requiring a full wipe and reinstall of an OS on the hard drive to use again.

Spec-wise, Orwl can run Ubuntu or Windows 10, with 8GB of RAM, a choice of an Intel Skylake M3 or M7 processor, and either 120GB or 480GB of storage. The bare-bones Orwl starts at $699, and can run up to $1,299 for the highest configuration, which the company hopes to ship in January 2017. Finally, the Orwl is being sold through a crowdfunding campaign on CrowdSupply, so the usual warnings of that particular type of storefront still apply.


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