Technology risk without safeguards

nathanb at nathanb at
Wed Nov 4 18:43:51 UTC 2020

To that end, anyone working around RF should be properly trained and use the safety tools provided them, they should be fine.  If an untrained individual does something and gets hurt with high power RF, it is unfortunate and happens all too often because of people thinking that the worst case things don’t happen to them…  


Can you provide a case where this may have happened?  Any RF in a Data Center should be on the roof, and isolated from the room at all times.  This is standard practice in every RF data room we’ve ever been in, whether it be commercial or Government.



Nathan Babcock


From: NANOG < at> On Behalf Of Alain Hebert
Sent: Wednesday, November 4, 2020 10:32 AM
To: nanog at
Subject: Re: Technology risk without safeguards


    Maybe someone is just looking for "inspiration".

    There is other venues to work this out "safely", IMHO.

Alain Hebert                                ahebert at <mailto:ahebert at>    
PubNIX Inc.        
50 boul. St-Charles
P.O. Box 26770     Beaconsfield, Quebec     H9W 6G7
Tel: 514-990-5911    Fax: 514-990-9443

On 11/4/20 12:24 PM, Matt Harris wrote:


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On Wed, Nov 4, 2020 at 10:48 AM Suresh Kalkunte <sskalkunte at <mailto:sskalkunte at> > wrote:



I believe the below described method of causing intentional (1) damage to equipment in data centers and (2) physical injury to a person at the workplace is on-topic for the NANOG community, if not, I look forward to your feedback. As a software developer who has subscribed to the NANOG mailing list for a number of years, I post this note relying on intellectual honesty that I have had the opportunity to observe since 1996-97.


The below described technology risk is applicable to computing/communication equipment rendered vulnerable by Intentional Electromagnetic Interference (jamming an electronic device) and the risk of health sabotage affecting people (jamming a human) managing the Internet infrastructure enabled by intentional application of powerful radiofrequency fields (RF) emitted by re-purposed components salvaged from a kitchen heating appliance (Magnetron) or from an outdoor high gain/power Line of sight transceiver (unidirectional microwave radio) which has a harm causing range up to 25 meters (estimated using a Spectral Power Density calculator like <> ).


This risk from mis-application of powerful RF is from human operated or IoT apparatus** with an avenue of approch from (a) subterrain placement aided by a compact/mini directional horizontal drilling machine (eg. principle of placing a stent in the heart) and/or (b) strategic placement in an obscure over-surface location to maximize negative impact on the target of opportunity.


With building materials or ground offer insufficient* protection to block the passage of powerful RF and the absence of diagnostic/forensic tests to detect biomarkers expressed post-overexposure to harmful RF  (combination of RF frequency, Spectral Power Density/Specific Absorption Rate incident on a person and duration of exposure), intentional damage to electronic equipment and people is at present unrestricted.


The purpose of bringing this method of exploting technology to your attention is with an interest to build the momentum for ushering in the much needed safeguards in this context.


While I'm a bit confused as to what this message is trying to ultimately get at, it should be noted that folks who work with RF communications equipment and other EM emitters which are strong enough to cause harm to a person are generally well aware of the necessary precautions and take them on a day to day basis when working with this equipment. If there's evidence that some part of our industry is ignoring or failing to train their team members on safety best practices, then let's hear that out specifically and I'm all for working to rectify that. 


On the other hand, the post seems to hint at intentionally using high powered RF to inflict intentional harm on a person or to jam communications signals. The former is relatively difficult to do by virtue of the amount of power necessary. Quite basically, there are much easier ways to go about injuring someone if that's what you want to do. Of course, intentionally injuring another person is a criminal act in just about every jurisdiction. As far as the latter goes, the ability to jam RF communications has existed for as long as RF communication has, and the knowledge of how to accomplish it is relatively widespread. It is also illegal in the US and most likely many other jurisdictions as well, and in the US the FCC has enforcement power with the ability to levy some pretty hefty fines on anyone who does so, even inadvertently though negligent practices. 


The post states that their intention is to "build the momentum for ushering in the much needed safeguards in this context." but lacks specificity with regard to what safeguards they propose beyond the legal/regulatory ones that already exist, so I'm not sure what more can really be said here. 



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