If you suspect your Windows PC is under attack, you can use a custom kill switch to cut your connection immediately. It may have begun to download malware, display pop-up ads, or even be used as part of a botnet.
A kill switch can also be used for more benign purposes, such as preventing a large file from being uploaded, sending an embarrassing email, or canceling an inconvenient update.
Consider it a panic button that allows you to disconnect from the internet without having to disconnect network cables or turn off your router.
We’ll show you how to make a kill switch in Windows using a special shortcut in the guide below. This can be activated with a single mouse click or a keyboard shortcut to immediately take you offline if the need arises. Once the panic has passed, you can also create a shortcut to reconnect to get back online.
How to create a Kill Switch in Windows: Create a shortcut
There is no option to create a kill switch in Windows. You can get around this by making a shortcut that turns off your network adapter and disconnects your computer from the internet. This is how you do it.
1. Open the Windows 10 Settings app by pressing the Windows key + I on your keyboard or by clicking the Start button and selecting the Settings gear icon.
2. Select “Network & Internet” from the drop-down menu when the Settings window appears.
Note the name of the network adapter that is currently connecting your PC to the internet in the “Network status” section on the right.
This should be “Ethernet” for wired connections and “WiFi” for wireless connections, though your exact adapter name may differ.
3. Right-click a blank area of your desktop and close or minimize the Settings box. Select New, then Shortcut from the drop-down menu.
4.Copy and paste the following into the location box next to the Browse button when the “Create Shortcut” box appears. Replace “XXXX” with the name of your network adapter from step 2:
C:\Windows\System32\netsh.exe interface set interface name=”XXXX” admin = disabled
For example, for an Ethernet connection, enter:
C:\Windows\System32\netsh.exe interface set interface name=”Ethernet” admin = disabled
If Windows isn’t installed on your “C” drive, you’ll need to change that drive letter, too.
5. Change the name of the kill switch shortcut to something more recognizable, such as “Internet Off,” “Disconnect,” or just plain old “Kill Switch,” and then click Next.
To confirm and create the shortcut, click Finish. It will appear on your desktop. But don’t press the button just yet!
How to set up a Kill Switch in Windows: Customize the shortcut
You can customize your kill switch shortcut to look and work the way you want once you’ve created it. This will make it easier to locate and activate it in the event of a disaster, and it will prevent you from accidentally activating it. Here’s what you should do.
1. From the context menu, right-click your new shortcut and select Properties. Click “Change Icon” when the Properties box appears.
2. A message will appear stating that the file does not contain any icons. To dismiss this, click OK, and a “Change Icon” box will appear.
Click OK after choosing a suitable icon for your Kill Switch shortcut, such as an off button or a no-entry sign.
3. You can create a keyboard shortcut for your kill switch in the Properties box if you’re unable to click its icon when panic strikes.
Select the keys you want to use from the “Shortcut key” box and press them. It’s worth noting that Windows may attempt to finish the shortcut for you. To save your key combination, click Apply.
4.Finally, because you’ll need administrator privileges to turn off a network adapter, you’ll need to adjust your kill switch accordingly. Click the Advanced button, then check the “Run as administrator” box before clicking OK.
5. To save the changes to your kill switch, click OK. You can now drag and pin the shortcut to your taskbar for quick access with just one click.
But don’t click it just yet; you’ll need to make a “reconnect” switch first.
How to set up a Kill Switch in Windows: Create a reconnect switch
After you’ve disconnected from the internet with your kill switch, you’ll need to know how to reconnect once the emergency is over. Create a new shortcut to get you back online to prepare for this. We’ll show you how below.
1. Go back to the first section and repeat steps 1 through 3. Copy and paste the following into the location box when you get to the “Create shortcut” stage in step 4:
C:\Windows\System32\netsh.exe interface set interface name=”XXXX” admin = enabled
Again, replace the “XXXX” with the name of your network adapter, along with the letter of your hard drive if necessary.
2. Name the shortcut “Reconnect,” “Internet On,” or something similarly recognizable, then click Finish to create it.
3. You can change the shortcut’s icon by right-clicking it and selecting Properties, then “Change Icon,” as explained in the previous section. Select an appropriate icon, such as a power button or a green check mark.
In the same way as before, you can assign a keyboard shortcut to the reconnect switch.
Don’t forget to grant administrator access as well, by going to Advanced and choosing that option.
Click OK to save your settings and exit the Properties box, then optionally pin the new shortcut to your taskbar.
How to set up a Kill Switch in Windows: Test your kill switch
Finally, make sure your kill switch is operational so you can disconnect from the internet immediately in the event of a disaster. Here’s how to put the shortcut to the test, as well as how to get back online quickly if it fails.
1. Double-click your kill switch’s icon on your desktop, click its icon on the taskbar (if you pinned it there), or use your preferred keyboard shortcut to see if it works.
2. You’ll be asked if you’re sure you “want to allow this app to make changes to your device” in a User Account Control prompt.
This warning adds a step to your kill switch, but it also keeps you from accidentally activating it. To proceed, select Yes.
3. Your Kill Switch will now disable your network adapter and terminate your internet connection.
To enable the adapter again, just click or double-click your reconnect icon, or use its keyboard shortcut.
4. If something goes wrong and you can’t get back online using your shortcut, don’t panic. Just go to Settings, “Network & Internet,” and select “Change adapter options.”
Double-click your network adapter to re-enable it and reconnect to the internet.
If something troubling happens on your computer, you can now quickly disconnect from the internet.