Technology risk without safeguards

William Herrin bill at
Wed Nov 4 20:51:23 UTC 2020

On Wed, Nov 4, 2020 at 11:37 AM Suresh Kalkunte <sskalkunte at> wrote:
> Your comments gives me an overall impression that data center equipment are on average adequately protected, that is good. Also, public discussion on the risk of intentional EMI is a big positive.

I watched a T.V. program a few years ago where an investigative
reporter did a piece on the risks of malicious electromagnetic
interference (EMI). He did a demonstration where he tried to cause a
car to malfunction. A bad actor could cause highway crashes! He had a
great big apparatus about the size of the car's engine compartment and
pointed at the car. Nothing happened. So he moved it about 3 feet from
the car. Nothing happened. So he opened the car's hood and pointed it
right at the engine. Finally the engine started sputtering and the
dashboard electronics malfunctioned. The car, of course, remained
completely controllable and when the EMI generator was turned off it
resumed normal operation undamaged.

I've also had lightning hit about 50 feet from my unshielded computer
room. It fried a little plastic COTS router that was connected by
about 100 feet of UTP ethernet to my core router. The core router
crashed but worked fine after a reboot. No other equipment was

Vulnerability to EMI is a lot less than folks imagine.

> However, targeting a human using powerful RF is uncharacterized (please see If the RF emitters conducive for getting re-purposed for malice were prohibitively expensive _or_ the expertise to re-purpose RF for malice was very complex _or_ if there were diagnostic/forensic tests to detect foul-play using powerful RF, I would not be pursuing this initiative to safeguard unsuspecting/defenseless targets of opportunity.

Malicious use of EMI emitters to harm human health is definitely out
of scope for this list.

Bill Herrin

Hire me!

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