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October 16, 2015

Gregory Whiting, a materials scientist and manager of the Novel Electronics Group, claims his team of researchers has invented a new computer chip made of tempered glass that self-destructs in seconds, when remotely triggered. According to researchers, the new method uses silicon computer wafers equipped with a piece of tempered glass that breaks into small pieces when heated in one spot. The chip was produced at the California-based PARC company’s facilities. The heat to destroy the chip can be turned on using a remote, which could conceivably be anything from wifi connection to a radio-frequency signal. Whiting said that this chip will help ensure that data on stolen electronics remains secure, and could allow for easier recycling of electronics. 

Analyst Comment: While the utility of such a device is immense, particularly among sectors which deal with sensitive information including government and private contractors, the overall security of the new chip remains unclear. The chip works on the principle that hackers intend to steal rather than destroy information. A minimal amount of effort by a hacker could be sufficient to destroy information, if that is their intent. The mass destruction of such chips could escalate both manufacturing and operational costs for companies. Furthermore, technical counter-measures such as blocking radiowaves and wifi access could bypass the self-destruct function.

computer chip destruction
data theft
protective intelligence