Unwanted Wireless Signals Bounce Off This Paint

You can brush it, roll it, or spray it ... and when it's applied over a weekend, the only way you'd know about it is that your cell phone won't work.
Addressing the growing need to protect wireless data from eavesdroppers and hackers, a materials R&D firm announced this week that it has developed a novel way to protect in-building wireless data from unauthorized incursions -- applying its wireless blocking paint to buildings.

EM-SEC Technologies said its EM-SEC Coating is a specially designed surface coating that has been successfully tested, proven and used by different U.S. defense and intelligence agencies. The firm is now moving to market the paint for commercial use.

"When wireless signals hit our painted walls, they are reflected back," said Pete Hernandez, the firm's VP of sales and marketing, in an interview Friday. "You can brush it, roll it, or spray it, and it dries in a few hours. When it's applied over a weekend, the only way you'd know about it is your cell phone won't work."

Initial tests involved the application of the paint to the perimeter of what are called Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities; wireless devices and other sensitive electronic gear in the structures were protected from unauthorized access by the paint. The EM-SEC Coating, according to Hernandez, blocks electromagnetic interference and reduces the threat of electronic eavesdropping. The coating was tested over a three-year period.

Tests utilizing the coating were initially carried out to aid U.S. defense and intelligence agencies to safeguard mission critical information. "The results," according to an EM-SEC statement, "showed that a one-time application of the EM-SEC Coating creates an 'electromagnetic fortress' by preventing airborne hackers from intercepting signals."

Asked what the price of the coating is, Hernandez said the price is "comparable to good quality carpet." That translates to about $4 or $5 a square foot, but the price drops as the area to be painted grows.

Noting that airborne hacking is usually undetectable an untraceable, Hernandez said the coating is expected to be most valuable for use in securing and blocking wireless data. "If hackers can't see or get signals, they can't hack them," he said.

EM-SEC is the sales and marketing arm of Unitech, a materials development firm that is developing patented conductive coating systems.

Hernandez speculated that the EM-SEC Coating could have use in the more distant future in silencing cell phones in areas where the signals are unwelcome like movie theaters and doctors' offices.

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