Destroys Electronics in an Instant
An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is an instantaneous burst of high power energy caused by man-made sources such as electromagnetic weapons or a high-altitude nuclear burst, and occurs as a radiated field that couples on to electrical lines, telecommunication lines, and other metallic paths into a facility. In an EMP event, every piece of unprotected equipment that relies on integrated circuits for operation could be immediately disabled or destroyed. The modern day reliance on electronic devices in all phases of life presents an ever-increasing risk of catastrophic interruption of critical business, control and life support systems. EMP protection has become an essential element for all businesses and services that require electronic equipment and communication for day-to-day operations.
EMP Q & A
Q 1: Why is EMP becoming one of the greatest threats facing data centers?
A: Do you remember in the movie Oceans Eleven, when Las Vegas was rendered powerless?
Well, that event could happen at any time.
The movie depicted an Intentional Electromagnetic Pulse (IEMI) attack. We are all aware of an protect against natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and tornados, but your business could also be crippled by an even greater threat, and EMP. In a matter of seconds and without warning, an EMP could permanently destroy all electronic equipment including hardware, software, and data.
Q 2: What causes an EMP?
A: An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) could come from two sources:
1) A deliberate electromagnetic weapon attack
Without causing any harm to humans, the effects from an IEMI weapon could disable regional electronic devices.
2) A nuclear device detonated in space, high above the U.S.
A High-Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) detonated 30 miles or higher above the Earth’s surface would destroy electronic devices within a targeted area without creating blast damage, radiation damage, or injuring anyone.
Q 3: What would it be like to experience an EMP?
A: An EMP would be far more catastrophic than a cyber-attack.
All electronic equipment and apparatus could be destroyed.
In an IEMI attack, every device that relies on integrated circuits for operation could be immediately disabled or destroyed. And unlike a cyber-attack, where “fingerprints” can often be found for forensic analysis, an IEMI attacker will not leave any information behind. Studies have also shown that an EMP shutdown of electronics is so rapid that the log files in computers will not indicate what happened.
Q 4: Has there been any media attention regarding EMP?
A: Media coverage has been growing.
The 2013 Data Center World’s opening session discussed wide-area electric outage threats.
The opening panel for Data Center World’s 2013 conference outlined various threats facing the country’s electrical infrastructure, including EMP. Recent articles have also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the Washington Examiner and Yahoo News. These articles focus on the impact of EMP and how the U.S. could be thrown into a state of technological chaos.
Q 5: Do weapons or devices exist that could create an EMP?
A: Weapons have been tested and are currently available on the Internet.
EMP weapons are already here.
Terrorist or criminal groups could readily disrupt or damage our way of life in a matter of seconds by insidiously targeting US metropolitan cities and/or individual companies with an (IEMI) Intentional Electromagnetic Interference weapon. IEMI attack weapons can be readily purchased or assembled using instructions available on the Internet. They range from a small hand grenade-sized device to a suitcase-contained weapon and move up to a JOLT generator which fits on the back of a small trailer.
The CHAMP missile disabled the electronics in seven office buildings.
In a 2012 test, a Boeing CHAMP (Counter-Electronics High-Power Advanced Missile Project) missile successfully disabled the electronics in a two-story building by firing high power microwaves (a type of IEMI threat). Every PC inside went dark within seconds, as did the building’s entire electrical system. The test was so successful that it also disabled cameras recording the event. Over the course of one hour, the missile knocked out electrical systems at seven selectively targeted buildings with little or no collateral damage.
Q 6: How much EMP is needed to destroy your data equipment?
A: Most electronic equipment can survive a pulse of 10 Volts per meter.
An EMP would create a pulse of 10,000 V/m.
Volts per meter (V/m) are the standard units of electric field strength used to determine electromagnetic immunity in products and equipment.
An EMP would result in a high intensity pulse of over 10,000 V/m, which is 1,000 times more field than IT equipment is designed to handle. Every piece of electronic equipment could be damaged beyond repair with data corruption and permanent software malfunctions. It is also interesting to note that even the most robust aircraft cockpit equipment is only designed to survive up to 7,200 V/m.
Q 7: What types of businesses are at the greatest risk?
A: The malfunction of electronics will have the most devastating impact on critical infrastructure segments.
According to Department of Homeland Security, critical infrastructure businesses include:
- Financial Services
- Security Services
- Electricity Generation
- Transmission and Distribution
- Public Health, Health Records
- Gas Production, Transport, and Distribution
Q 8: What is the government doing to protect us from an EMP?
A: Legislated policies do not yet exist.
Government organizations are studying the threat, but haven’t taken action.
EMP Commission- According to Presidential Policy Directive 21, in 2001 the US House Armed Services Committee established the Commission to Assess the Threat to the US from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack (EMP Commission) to assess the high-altitude EMP threat to the U.S. from potentially hostile states, or parties such as terrorists that have or could acquire nuclear and ballistic missiles to conduct such an attack.
The EMP commission warned:
FEDRAMP – All Federal agencies and affiliated service providers must use the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FEDRAMP) when buying and authorizing cloud computing solutions. This will ensure that agencies using consumer cloud services adequately address security issues including electromagnetic pulse from a baseline perspective.
Certain types of relatively low-yield nuclear weapons can be employed to generate potentially catastrophic EMP effects over wide geographic areas and designs for such weapons may have been illicitly trafficked for a quarter-century… It has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures and thus the fabric of the U.S. society.
FERC – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), with jurisdiction over US interstate electricity sales, wholesale electric rates, hydroelectric licensing, natural gas pricing, and oil pipeline rates has begun taking strong measures to protect the country’s power grid.
Q 9: Do other countries know about EMP?
A: Countries such as Egypt, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea have knowledge regarding EMP.
North Korea, Iran, and China have been developing weapons.
According to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, China already has an exotic electromagnetic pulse weapon that can devastate electronic systems using a burst of energy similar to that produced by a nuclear blast. Iran and North Korea have also been conducting mid-flight missile detonations, and the main reason to test such a capability is to detonate an EMP weapon.
Q 10: Who are some of the industry experts?
A: Dr. William Radasky is a leading expert in the industry.
Dr. William Radasky is the world’s foremost EMP expert.
As an ETS-Lindgren team member, Dr. William Radasky is known internationally for his dedication to understanding the threats of HEMP and IEMI and for developing mitigation and methods to protect commercial facilities from these EMP threats. Dr. Radasky is the Chairman of the International Electromagnetic Commission (IEC) Subcommittee 77C, which is developing high-power electromagnetic protection and test standards including HEMP and IEMI for civil systems. Radasky’s additional credentials include:
- IEEE Life Fellow for contributions to understanding high-power electromagnetic effects on electrical equipment
- IEC Lord Kelvin Award Winner for significant contributions to international standardization
- Special Issue Editor for the IEEE EMC Transactions on IEMI (2004) and HEMP (2013)
- Author of over 400 articles on EMP-related topics
- M.S., University of New Mexico; and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara.