Naples woman creates bag used by FBI
COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. – A Naples woman’s love for scuba diving and snorkeling has made her a successful business woman and contractor for government safety.
Nearly a decade ago, Linda Kennedy was snorkeling in Bermuda when her money and credit cards were stolen from her blanket on the beach. From that point forward, Kennedy started searching for a waterproof bag that would allow her to keep her important documents and money with her at all times, even while in the water. The only problem was she could not find anything that would hold everything she needed and protect it from the water.
THE START OF AN IDEA
After searching for something to protect her passport, wallet, money, credit cards and phone and finding nothing. Kennedy decided she would design her own waterproof bag.
“I said that is it. I came back and worked very hard to develop the product,” Kennedy said referring to her bag known as the LokSak. “We have a hermetic seal, that is the key to the entire process with the bag…[it] means nothing is permitted to get in or out of the seal. No air, water, dust, sand, humidity, nothing. It falls under the category of a bio-hazard bag by government standards.”
In fact, Kennedy said the government uses her LokSak to hold bio-hazardous material like anthrax and nuclear chemicals. She said most recently the government used her bags for Ebola purposes.
While the average consumer can find the bags at REI, The Container Store and Universal Studios, the bags are also being purchased overseas.
“We just sold 12,000, 12×12 bags to Turkey for a bank over there that is putting currency in the [sic] our bags.”
FROM ONE CHALLENGE TO THE NEXT
After eight years of production on the LokSak, the military approached Kennedy with a new challenge. They wanted her to create a bag that would block RFID (radio-frequency identification). RFID is the use of wireless electromagnetic fields to transmit data. You can find RFID chips in your credit cards, passports and cell phones. In 2007, all U.S. passports started being built with RFID chips in them. The purpose is to be able to track and transmit data. Kennedy had no clue how RFID worked until someone from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service approached her.
“He said can you make me something now where the soldiers ID and their passports are safe, and I had no inclination on how to even do that,” she recalled.
So, Kennedy went to work to figure out how to block RFID from getting through. She found the material faraday, which was already used to block RFID, but she wanted to design a bag that was also functional. After testing and failing, Kennedy came up with a bag she called the ShieldSak. She explained the key part of the bag was creating a way to stitch the bag that would not allow RFID to get through the tiny holes created by the needle and thread. Kennedy tested the bag’s ability to keep out RFID by using her cell phone.
“If you put your phone in here, no one can get into your phone. They can’t hack, track, scan, they can’t do anything,” she said. “You can walk into 99.99% of any place and never have a chance of having your phone read.”
Kennedy got the patent for the ShieldSak in July 2014 and has since sold the bag to Homeland Security and other programs overseas.
“Homeland Security has another use for these because what they’ll do is they confiscate phones from drug users or someone they’ll pick up, drug cartel. They can take the phone and drop it immediately into the bag, and then the cartel can never erase that phone,” she explained.
Kennedy said local law enforcement has similar uses for RFID-blocking devices. WINK News reached out to local law enforcement and found agencies use anything from aluminum foil to other types of faraday bags or cages to block RFID.
We just learned that the Collier County Sheriff’s Office finished testing faraday products, including ShieldSak. While they told us that ShieldSak worked as advertised, they are still not sure which product they will end up buying.
For more information on the LokSak or ShieldSak, click here.