Cyber Defender Richard Clarke Advises Weapons Protection Tech Firm

Former White House counterterrorism adviser and cybersecurity doomsayer Richard A. Clarke is now advocating a new technology federal agencies are using to trace a different kind of threat -- weapons and other objects of destruction.

Visible Assets, Inc., manufacturer of RuBee wireless-tracking networks, announced on Tuesday that the author of "Cyber War: The Next Threat To National Security And What To Do About It" has joined its board of directors. The firm currently helps several agencies in the Defense and Energy departments manage inventories of weapons and hazardous materials, and it has aspirations to deploy the technology in federal agency computer server rooms.

Similar to radio frequency identification, RuBee -- typically embedded in tags on objects -- sends data to an antenna, except RuBee's signals travel through magnetic waves, not radio waves. Magnetic waves allow the information to pass through people, mud, water, steel and other environments that disable RFID.

"It's like an RFID tag only better," Clarke told Nextgov in an interview. "The RF in RFID is not involved." He added that the apparatus has applications beyond the military, perhaps for border protection.

John K. Stevens, chairman and chief executive officer of Visible, who also was interviewed, said the firm has had "serious discussions" about attaching RuBee tags to radiation suits for DOE laboratory personnel. The company's Energy customers include the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Y-12 National Security Complex and Los Alamos National Laboratory, all of which conduct nuclear research.

"Most of the nuclear items that DOE has stored are in secure rooms and they have doors on them and [the tags] are also radiation proof," he said. Stevens added that RuBee-based networks could be helpful for heightening the physical security of computer assets.