Special Paint Provides 'Electromagnetic Fortress'

By David Needle

March 30, 2007

Maxwell Smart was ahead of his time

In the old secret agent spoof TV show Get Smart, agent Maxwell Smart would always ask his boss to use the Cone of Silence to ensure security. The running gag was it took forever for them to get in position and wait for the cone to be lowered, and then Smart would start talking about something trivial, not a security issue.

Well, the show was right about one thing; high tech has become an increasingly important part of security. One of the latest innovations is a special paint that blocks electronic transmissions. Unlike the Cone of Silence, EM-SEC Coating is a real product.

The coating was developed by Unitech, a unique materials development company, and is marketed and sold by its subsidiary, EM-SEC Technologies, based in Southern Pines, NC. EM-SEC said the coating has already been tested and put to use by certain U.S. military and government installations for several years, and it's just now becoming available on a commercial basis.

The EM-SEC Coating creates an electromagnetic barrier that restricts the passage of airborne radio frequency (RF) signals. In testing, the company said a one-time application of the EM-SEC Coating creates an "electromagnetic fortress" by preventing airborne hackers from intercepting signals.

"We have developed an innovative shielding system that can not only be utilized by corporate offices, boardrooms, server and computer rooms and research and development laboratories to protect their digital assets from electronic eavesdropping, but it will also ensure the safe operation of wireless networks," said Wayne LeGrande, president and chief technical officer of EM-SEC Technologies.

"The critical issues we met [with the government and military] are whether it was going to hold up after several years," LeGrande told internetnews.com. "And whether it can it be repaired if you have a hole. It was a long and costly process to ensure we could provide maximum protection at the highest level."

For commercial customers, EM-SEC said the cost is about $4 to $5 per square foot, plus a preliminary site survey. LeGrande said the company has begun talking to customers where security and the protection of intellectual property is paramount, such as banking and pharmaceuticals.

"The use of EM-SEC Coating as an electromagnetic barrier for the containment of wireless networks has opened a new realm of possibilities for our company and for the future of wireless communications," said Robert Boyd, vice president and director of technology for EM-SEC Technologies, LLC.

Analyst Roger Kay has not seen the coating in action, but said if it works, EM-SEC picked a good time to release it. "It's great time to sell fear," said Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. "There are a lot of security issues related to wireless networks so I'm sure there will be companies interested in this."

Giant retailer TJX Companies this week disclosed details of a massive theft of company records. The company still isn't sure how the breach, in which as many as 47.5 million customer records were stolen, occurred. In an interview with internetnews.comGartner analyst Avivah Litan speculated the perpetrators found their way in through a wireless network or some other hole in TJX's infrastructure.



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