Daily Archives: April 10, 2016

Environmental Sustentation 22: Natural EMPs

In our post on environmental damnation 22, natural EMPs, we noted that EMPs, short for electromagnetic pulses, which are short, typically intense, bursts of electromagnetic energy that are generally disruptive, if not damaging, to electrical and electronic equipment, are a huge overlooked supply chain damnation because today’s information driven supply chains run on communication systems that control the chains, as well as the finances that pay for them. A single well-placed burst can take out an entire data centre, and if your organization is not setup in a distributed infrastructure with distributed off-site backups, your entire operation will come to a screeching halt — indefinitely!

No one thinks about this because people believe that the only real concern is EMP weapons, but these are only possessed by a few military operations that are unlikely to ever use them as they could destroy their equipment at the same time, but this is not true. Natural EMPs, which cannot be predicted and cannot be stopped, can do just as much damage and are much more likely to fry your equipment and bring down your supply chain than a rogue attack by a terrorist group that happened to get their hands on an EMP.

As per our damnation post, whether you realize it or not, there are a number of natural events that cause natural EMPs including, but not limited to:

  • lightning,
  • solar flares, and
  • earthquakes and volcanoes.

There is typically warning of the potential of each of these events, as well as the area and the likelihood, but the warning could be brief and the ability to prevent nonexistent, so any warning is likely to be too late.

So what can an organization do to protect against this damnation?

First of all, it can make sure that critical equipment is shielded, and located in shielded rooms. Low power EMPs will then not be much of a threat to that equipment.

Second of all, it can install equipment to divert as much of the pulse as possible. For example, a well placed lightening rod can divert lightening, and any EMP that might accompany it.

Thirdly, it can make sure it has a distributed infrastructure with real-time failover and distributed, real-time incremental back-up. Then, an EMP that takes out part of the IT operation in one locale will not take down the entire information (and financial) chain.

It’s not much, but it is enough. And at the same time, the organization also protects against fire, flood, and the FBI (raid) destroying a critical data centre.