How to keep a secret?

There aren’t any technical obstacles for appearance of electronic passports in Belarus with biometric data, and if it will be decided to impose this novelty, we will even have to choose the best variant out of existing alternative variants. Whatever project to win at the contest, a problem of nonlegitimate access to the content of a microchip in plastic will inevitably occur. How to keep the secret?
There aren’t any technical obstacles for appearance of electronic passports in Belarus with biometric data, and if it will be decided to impose this novelty, we will even have to choose the best variant out of existing alternative variants. Whatever project to win at the contest, a problem of nonlegitimate access to the content of a microchip in plastic will inevitably occur. How to keep the secret?

Specialists of the scientific-research laboratory of materials and elements of electronic and superconducting equipment of the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics searched and found the answer to this question, they are patenting now both composition of a special material and the protective device. As not everything is clear now with introduction of the national electronic passport, the scientists decided to make a debut with their development in Europe. The contract on sale of technical documentation of one of the countries, where special materials will be produced and the items, made of them, able to protect the document from reading, is being prepared.

— The problem is, — says one of the development authors, a doctoral candidate of the Chair of information protection Timofey Borbotko — that high-frequency scanners at customs, for example, read information from a microchip from the distance of 10 centimeters. However, as it is reported in American scientific periodicals, it’s not difficult to produce more powerful device, able to read passports from long distances. An electronic identification document becomes a peculiar “radiocollar”. Wherever you are, your movements can be controlled. Americans draw even more terrible picture. It is possible to make a bomb, equipped with a scanner, which will read information from the passports of people passing by. As soon as a microchip of a required person responds, automatics will bring into action a detonating fuse.

European electronic passports are smarter. Their scanners read firstly an electronic key, which responds only in direct contact of the device with a document, and then with the help of this password a microchip becomes activated. So, it seems that a stranger can’t receive information. But we all know how often different data bases are being stolen, and if an intruder knows the key, there will be no protection of the identification document.
Apart from that, electronic documents can simply go wrong, even if they occasionally get into a strong electromagnetic field for a short period of time. That’s why a passport of both American and European type, and also bank plastic cards with a microchip are likely to be protected from outside wave action. You can make it with the help of absorbing materials created in the university laboratory.

This screen will represent a container, a purse, a porte-monnaie or simply a cover, but anyway, he should be light, thin, able to absorb waves of any frequency and at the same time not very expensive. To achieve a necessary result, the scientists spent several years for theoretic investigations and calculations and the same number of years — for experiments. The matter of protection is that an electromagnetic wave, having repeatedly reflected from hard dust particle, diffused in the screen material and “stuck” in such a matrix. And this wouldn’t have been a problem, if for each wave frequency the flecks of dust of strictly defined individual size weren’t required. 

There are tens of frequencies in the same diapason, which has to be closed. That is why it is necessary to prepare compositions, strictly regulated by proportions, of many precisely calibrated powders — from the impalpable powders of nano-sizes to rather “large”, measured by microns. If you commit even a slight mistake, there will appear an artful window of radio transparency in protection. 

In principle, if to place this business on the stream and to adjust big production, with what the university is going to be occupied, the problem of dosage accuracy will not look so puzzling, and that is why you can guarantee screen safety and stable demand for such a protection. The more so, because the scientists will not be limited by passports and bank cards. One more actual problem is protection of mobile phones’ owners from microwave irradiation, and design of such screens is also planned by the employees of laboratory. There are good prerequisites for organization of such production in connection with the fact that the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics receives the status of an innovation centre.

A separate direction in a thematic plan of the laboratory is projects, oriented to the needs of protection. People speak about this openly, they regularly put out their achievements for judgement of specialists at international exhibitions of armament, though, they don’t reveal all the secrets. The matter is a new generation of camouflage materials for warlike equipment, defense constructions, mobile command posts and soldiers, which can be reliably conceived from the eyes of the opponent, armed with a usual binoculars, but from the funds of radio electronic and forward-looking investigation. 

Besides, comparison of characteristics of these materials with the elements of trimming of American “wordsmiths” F-117 wasn’t in favor of the destroyer. As it turned out, it is impossible to compare a price. Belarusian shield materials, where as disperser of electromagnetic waves is used not only nano-powders, but different accessible liquids, which could be safely hidden inside of camouflage fabric, are much cheaper. 

Now the scientists are ready to unite all three functions in one material and to shift from laboratory samples to full-scale camouflage nets, able to make warlike equipment invisible. Instrumental investigations and computer generated simulation testify that such materials should provide reduction of range of first objects’ sighting approximately fivefold. If this is true, field tests will show, which will soon be carried out with the specialists of the Military Academy of the Republic of Belarus and by support of the Research and Development Establishment of the Armed Forces of Belarus. 

Nevertheless, military men from the former Soviet republics and some other countries express interest to the Belarusian newly designed product now. Therefore, it can be, that Belarus will have unusual and profitable export article of science-intensive products. 

Anna Bondarchuk
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