CORDIS - EU research results

Development of a Continous Sweep RF Harmonic Spectral Analysis Detector

Final Report Summary - SAFETALK (Development of a Continous Sweep RF Harmonic Spectral Analysis Detector)

Theft of intellectual property and confidential information is a growing threat to a large number of European SMEs, adversely influencing their competitiveness in the global knowledge based economy. There is a need to address this problem by actively preventing the use of electronic devices in knowledge theft. The SAFETALK project delivers a system in the form of a walk-through portal that will reduce the risk of intellectual property being stolen.

EUR 120 billion is lost to intellectual property (IP) theft in Europe every year alone, with additional uncountable loss in competitiveness and fraud that can be attributed to the intentional use of electronic devices for capture, storage and transmission of confidential information. A significant proportion of this crime is from 750 000 innovative, high-tech European SMEs. The losses incurred by knowledge theft impact on other sectors such as the 120 000 commercial law firms (predominantly SMEs) and 250 000 SME accountants and 200 000 SME insurers.

These eavesdropping devices if not detected have the potential to steal Billions of Euros of 'secret knowledge' from unprotected, knowledge-reliant SMEs. The only current counter-measure is 'sweeping', which costs around EUR 4 000 for a 'sweep' service, potentially EUR 48 000 yearly for monthly coverage per SME, very few of which can actually afford it. Specifically, the system developed will bring a preventative measure for both large and small knowledge-reliant companies - a new affordable integrated detection and identification system that integrates the key technology elements of developed NLJD technology, into an arch architecture system capable of detecting a threat to IPR capable of detecting the threat of an individual's ability to steal secret knowledge, for which there is no currently available alternative.

The SAFETALK allows for detection of various types of electronic devices that prevents owners of surveillance devices from entering information-sensitive areas and prevents potential sensitive knowledge theft attempts.

One of the potential impacts of the project is to help protect and sustain the competitive position of the community of over 750 000 innovative, hi-tech SMEs, recognised by the EC as being the hub of innovation and involved in leading edge research in Europe. Whilst prolific generators of new science and technology (120 000 new European patent applications every year), small, often micro, hi-tech SMEs are vulnerable to theft of their IP and potential differentiation in their marketplace. In Europe, the damage to competitiveness and lost sales due to IP theft is put at EUR 120 billion annually, and it is estimated that the specific impact on hi-tech SMEs is around EUR 35 billion which whilst a small proportion of the total EU losses, represents a large proportion of the hi-tech SME sector turnover, which is EUR 870 billion euros. The IP possessed by hi-tech SMEs represents 82 % of their business value, and its protection is perceived by them as being critical to their longer term sustainability and survival.

Annually, IP theft is estimated to cost the typical hi-tech SME around EUR 34 000. The losses incurred by knowledge theft impact on other sectors too. Commercially, critical knowledge need not necessarily be IP it may simply be privileged or confidential information. The protection of this form of information is vital to the competitiveness of professional services firms in Europe, such as the 120 000 SME law firms, 250 000 SME accountants and 200 000 SME insurers. The information, requiring protection in these types of SME can be used by others to commit a range of fraud offences from investment fraud to embezzlement to false insurance claims and insurance certificate production. In the absence of statistics, annual loss in specific sectors is estimated to be in excess of EUR 2.5 billion for SME law firms, EUR 3.5 billion for SME accountants and EUR 6.5 billion for SME insurers respectively.

The third community of SMEs we hope to help are the European manufacturers of counter-surveillance equipment themselves. Electronic eavesdropping detection equipment falls into the 'other electrical security systems and products' category in Freedonia's security reports. The January 2003 report states 'the world market for 'other electronic security systems and products' is projected to log double-digit gains through 2006, rising 16 % per annum to EUR 3,43 million, of which EUR 1,06 million will be spent in Europe'. Another market which can also give clues to the size of the eavesdropping detection market is the information security market which was worth EUR 11.4 billion in the EU in 2003. The European market for both surveillance and counter-surveillance equipment is dominated by external suppliers. It is estimated that European suppliers posses only 30 % of the market share in this specific sector in the EU.

The domination of large North America suppliers generating most of advances and innovations in the field of counter-surveillance equipment which is primarily caused by higher awareness of loss related intellectual property rights (IPR) and confidential information theft negatively influences on European SEM suppliers. One of the ways for EU suppliers to increase their share of the global markets is to develop lower cost and reliable devices to help the large volume markets represented by the two communities above to protect themselves against IP and knowledge theft.

The long term impact of the project is different for each SME. Specific advantages for each are as follows:
- NATEL: The company expects to supply reconfigurable modules or the upgraded algorithms to the device integrator in the supply chain.
- SFTMND: The company expects to broaden portfolio of their services by building up new expertise in using their IT knowledge on developing databases and algorithms. Also they expect to provide, maintain and upgrade software for the SAFETALK system.
- TTI: The company expects to supply microstrip antennas and control panels to the device integrator.
- ETRONIC expects to expand their business by offering the SAFETALK system to the high-tech innovative SME market as well as benefiting from facilitating installations.
- TSE: The company expects to expand their business by supplying components of arch architectures.
- INTOR: They expect to benefit from disseminating the SAFETALK system to communities of SMEs expressing the need for permanent IP protection in Poland.
- AUTHEN: They expect to benefit from advertising the SAFETALK system among communities of SMEs with needs for permanent IP protection in the United Kingdom.

Through participation in the project, each SME increased in competitiveness going beyond the opportunity to offer a specific component or service related to the markets identified, but also including the transition towards joining the new knowledge-based economy with partnered exploitation of the IPR created by the project and owned by the SME proposers. Furthermore, the provision of new knowledge differentiators to the sectoral community of SMEs also provided opportunities for the core group of SMEs to increase their perceived value to their customers as strategic supply partners with innovative product development capabilities.