The IT equipment you can take into battle

01 farmers revenge
Robert Couse-Baker (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

The farmer's revenge

To modern city folk, the scythes and pitchforks farmers use in their work may seem quaint, but of course they represent a specific form of technology—an innovation at one point that become everyday over the centuries. And as the stereotypical image of the pitchfork-wielding mob makes clear, these implements could be quickly transformed into improvised weapons. In fact, in Japan, traditional kama scythes were integrated into various forms of martial arts.

If you're in IT, you're as familiar with your laptop and your cell phone as a farmer is with his tools. And just like Japanese farmers with their kama, you might find yourself using one of those tools in battle, for offense or defense. We admit, that's pretty unlikely, but we'll step you through some of the odder possibilities.

 

02 shoulder bag armor

Shoulder bag armor

What fashion item is more emblematic of modern white collar life than the shoulder laptop bag? But if your bag is just holding your computer and maybe your keys, it's not living up to its potential. Don't you also want one that can stop a knife, or a bullet? That's the promise of the MTS Multi-Threat Shield, an eight-pound, one-piece, $900 bag that quickly unfolds for greater coverage. Does the manufacturer offer video of people pumping the bag full of lead? You'd better believe it! The folks at IDG.TV also tested it out, and were reasonably impressed. If you're looking to protect your back instead (or in addition), check out this $350 bulletproof backpack.

The IT equipment you can take into battle
Photo and Share CC (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Sacrifice your systems

If you don't have several hundred dollars to spend on a bulletproof laptop bag, you might think: maybe I could just stop bullets with my laptop itself? The Mythbusters crew proved that it was possible—sort of, with huge caveats. It seems that the classic G4 PowerBook could save you from incoming fire, assuming the bullets hit the remarkably durable battery case. Unfortunately, we can't imagine that modern-day MacBook Airs offer the same layer of protection. The good news is that you can get a used PowerBook for $200 on Amazon. Probably you wouldn't want to sacrifice your main laptop in combat anyway?

IT equipment you can take into battle

Go on the offensive

Maybe you're tired of having a laptop bag that can only play defense. Maybe you want to return fire as well. You might want to consider a briefcase with a built-in machine gun. The Homemade Defense blog describes a prototype that uses an MP5K submachine gun in detail, pointing out that if you "hold it like a regular briefcase and fire without sights, combined with the high rate of fire of the MP5K, I imagine you would be out of ammo before you figured out that you hadn't hit anything." The machine gun also takes up all the space inside the briefcase, leaving no room for your laptop or important papers. Nevertheless, there is still video of the absurd device.

05 call

Who you gonna call?

Looking for something a little less deadly and a lot less unwieldy? Well, you might want to check out stun guns that look like cell phones, including this model from Guard Dog that packs a 2,700,000-volt punch. One of the biggest problems with the gadget is that it looks like a mid '00s feature phone and might arouse suspicion. (Another big problem is that it's dangerous and illegal in eight states.) As you have no doubt come to expect at this point, there is a video demonstration.

IT equipment you can take into battle

Escalating up the phone tree

The logical next step from here is of course an actual bullet-shooting gun that looks like a cell phone, and, if that sounds like your speed, there might be an option for you sometime soon: Ideal Conceal aims to deliver a full-fledged pistol that looks remarkably like an iPhone ... someday. An initial wave of coverage last year promised a mid-2016 release; the company's website has now pushed that off to the first quarter of 2017. And the company's Facebook page consists at the moment mostly of pro-gun-rights memes, but a comment promises that final tests are underway.

IT equipment you can take into battle

Little things that go zap

Tiny USB sticks are omnipresent, seemingly innocuous ... and deadly? Well, deadly to machinery, anyway. USB by its nature requires electric power to work, and that gave a Russian researcher the idea of creating a pen drive chock full of capacitors that could blast voltage into anything you plug it into. That gave rise to some alarmist coverage about its possible abilities to blow up computers, but in truth it seems the only real damage it can do is to your data. (Is there video? Oh, why not, of course there's video.)

 

IT equipment you can take into battle
Karen (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Slightly bigger things that go boom

OK, if a little thing like a USB stick can't do real damage, how about a larger storage medium—an external hard drive, say? Well, if you believe reports circulated in 2012, notorious al-Qaeda bombing engineer Ibrahim al-Asiri was developing a variety of explosive delivery systems, including "external hard drives that would explode when plugged into a laptop computer." While such a concept is theoretically feasible, and al-Asiri was behind a number of unconventional bomb designs, like 2009's fizzled underwear bombing attempt, none of the U.S. government's extravagant claims about his handiwork, which included not only the hard drive bomb but exploding pets, has ever been seen in the real world.

IT equipment you can take into battle
Jo Naylor (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Don't try this at home

Having gotten you all excited with the idea that your humble IT equipment could become a combat weapon, we must now dump a healthy amount of cold water on all of the concepts outlined here. A security-aware correspondent who asked to remain anonymous gave us the following take when we asked him about the bulletproof laptop bag: "If someone is shooting at you, you simply don't have time to deploy anything. Plus, Kevlar is hot, bulky, and uncomfortable, and is going to attract attention. The good guys are going to think you're a bad guy (because you aren't one of them, so why are you wearing a bulletproof vest?), the bad guys are going to think you're a good guy (because you're wearing a bulletproof vest), and now you're a target for both sides."

 

10 holstered
Michael Provines (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

Keep it holstered

And if the bullets do start to fly, his advice is to think long and hard before you pull that vaporware cell phone gun out of your pocket. "The best protections are anonymity (don't call attention to yourself), situational awareness (look around for signs of developing trouble), and avoidance (stay out of or minimize the time you are in locations and situations that might be dangerous)," he says. "If you carry a firearm, be absolutely sure you are well trained in how to use it, in practice, and have the NRA's insurance policy coverage in force. Unless you know what you're doing, pulling your weapon and blazing away will make things much worse in a huge hurry."