Use a Magnet to protect your PC

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 23, 2008
Updated • Nov 28, 2012

A wonderful tip about a hack was send to me yesterday by Joe. It describes how to change the way a PC, or most other devices that use a power source, can be protected by by a simple magnet and some stuff that does not cost more than $5. All you need is a reed switch, a magnet and some duct tape. It does secure your pc as well from someone that wants to turn it on without your permission.

You basically cut the power button cable of the motherboard, install the reed switch (controlled by magnetic fields) in between and tape the reed switch to the front panel. Now, whenever someone presses the power button nothing happens. Only if you press the magnet against the case at the position where you placed the reed switch and the power button the PC will turn on.

This is of course a basic protection and someone who really wanted to access it could simply remove the switch again or replace the power unit in the PC. Take a look at the video below that walks you through the installation of the protection.

It is obviously also possible to simply take out the PC's hard drives to connect them to another device to load them up. You can counter that with encryption though, with programs like True Crypt being very effective in this regard as you can use them to encrypt the full disk.

Update: The video is not available anymore unfortunately and we have removed the embed code from this article.

Update 2: The video has been posted to YouTube where it is available again. Below you find it again embedded.

It requires at least some knowledge of electronics and how PCs works, and is not recommended for people who never hacked their PC before.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. Syahid A. said on January 26, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Nice hack! But keep the hard disk a little bit far from the magnet!

  2. Alan said on January 24, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    How many times has the security of your PC been compromised by somebody pressing the power switch?!

    Martin.. this is not a “wonderful tip”

  3. jojo said on January 24, 2008 at 2:59 am

    Better also put a lock on the back of your PC. Most PC’s have a reset switch on the mobo that could be used to bypass the front button. See how easy he popped off the PC side in the video?

  4. OLIRC said on January 24, 2008 at 2:09 am

    If you ever have dismantled a hard drive you noticed how strong the neodynium magnet is inside their. I don’t think it’s a problem with that magnet depicted here that you have to be sleepless for ;).

  5. Nick said on January 24, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Today’s hard disks are protected against intense magnetic fields. Think about speakers and electromagnetic radiation emmiting from all those cables and procesing units inside.

  6. zzzZZZzzz said on January 23, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    why not just setting a bios password?

  7. Martin said on January 23, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Brian the magnet is only used to power the PC, it is not placed there all the time. And it does not have that much power to affect the hard drive I guess.

  8. Brian_K said on January 23, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    When did putting magnets near, let alone
    INSIDE one’s computer become a good idea?

    How much damage is accidentally wiping your hard drive going to do?

    Better yet, what happens when a tiny little decimal point gets moved a few places?

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