Information Resource Engineering Inc., a Baltimore-based computer security firm, introduced its first encryption chip yesterday.
Such chips are used to protect electronic transmissions from being intercepted and read without permission.
The security devices have become increasingly important -- and profitable -- as businesses and individuals have begun to rely on public computer networks on the Internet for commercial and personal communication.
"With a modem, people can see your messages over the Internet," said Jack Hembrough, a vice president at IRE. "This [chip] enables privacy over a public network."