Australian-owned Hypertec is tackling the memory chip crime wave after falling prey to the thieves itself.
The company will next week launch a memory tagging system, Retrieve, which it believes will dramatically reduce the expense and inconvenience suffered by the victims of chip theft.
The Association of British Insurers estimates chip theft costs the economy more than #1 billion a year, a crime wave supported by a black market in which stolen chips have no link to their original owners and no prospect of ever being recovered.
Indeed, according to Hypertec, the theft of memory has grown so rapidly in recent years that crime levels even fluctuate according to price levels in the memory industry worldwide.
The company's solution uses a 'source tagging' security system which identifies the memory chip on a Hypertec Multi-module board at the time of production with a unique PIN number that remains with the board throughout its life.
This non-recodable PIN number cannot be removed from the board. If it was, the chip would be unusable.
The system allows the police to identify and return stolen property to its owner by means of a handheld scanner which utilises Radio Frequency Identification technology. The system costs #5 per board and #200 for the handheld scanner.
Lianne Denness, managing director of Hypertec Europe, commented: "As the black market for stolen chips is sustained by untraceable chips, the only way to tackle this theft is to make chips traceable by tagging them."
She claimed the system is relatively inexpensive from a user's point of view: "On a board that costs #200, a #5 premium for peace of mind is relatively little."
Hypertec is offering free insurance on all Retrieve tagging systems and as a further benefit insurance company Burnett and Associates is offering discounts on general IT insurance for any company installing Retrieve to protect their chips.
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