Originally published October 2 2014
New web server hosting data center is immune to EMP attacks and solar flares
by David Gutierrez, staff writer
(NaturalNews) A company called EMP Grid Services is advertising its newly opened, 2,000-square-foot data center as expressly built to protect customer data against the possibility of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) caused by a solar flare or a nuclear or terrorist attack.
EMPs are surges of electromagnetic energy that can cause short circuits in electronics from cellphones to regional power grids. An EMP can permanently wipe out the data on a hard drive or other magnetic storage device by abruptly and intensely altering its magnetic field, according to Kris Domich, president of Cyber Innovation Labs-Professional Services, founding member of EMP Grid Services.
In addition to being deliberately caused by certain human-built devices, EMPs can also be produced by natural electromagnetic fluctuations within the sun. For example, a massive solar storm caused a coronal mass ejection (CME) on July 23, 2012, that passed directly through Earth's orbit. Had this solar flare struck the planet itself, scientists believe, it would have been as powerful as the 1859 Carrington Event, which knocked out telegraphs and other advanced electronic equipment of the period.
Most businesses ignore EMP threatEMP Grid Services will not reveal exactly what construction techniques or materials were used for its new Boyers, Pa., facility, beyond disclosing that the data center is built with an inner and outer skin that use a variety of metals and thicknesses. The idea for the facility came from a customer, Domich said, an insurer that was particularly concerned about losing data to EMPs.
According to Domich, it does not actually cost very much to incorporate EMP protection into data centers. Indeed, many underground data centers already advertise themselves as EMP-safe; businesses are also able to purchase containers and cabinets designed to shield data and IT equipment from EMPs. The real issue, Domich says, is that the industry has failed to discuss whether EMP protection should become a standard feature of data storage centers.
Lee Kirby, CTO of the data center advisory and research group Uptime Institute, said that a main reason for the lack of action on EMPs may simply be the newness of the data storage industry. With so many other factors to think about, data managers simply do not perceive the possibility of an EMP as a significant threat.
"When you look at it from a business justification viewpoint, [EMP protection] gets pushed way down the line, just from a probability point of view," Kirby said.
Massive EMP "likely to be catastrophic"A similar phenomenon has occurred in the highest levels of the federal government, where Congress has repeatedly held hearings on the risk that a major EMP could pose to health, safety and national security, but no action has been taken.
In addition to being generated by solar flares, EMPs can also be caused by human-made devices. For example, a nuclear weapon detonated 60 miles above the ground could release an EMP large enough to knock out electronics across an area of 1.5 million square miles. This could collapse the power grid, shutting off not just electricity but also other utilities and infrastructure such as water service or oil and gas pipelines.
Such a grid collapse is "likely to be catastrophic, and many people may ultimately die for lack of the basic elements necessary to sustain life in dense urban and suburban communities," a 2008 U.S. government report concluded. It could take four to 10 years to repair the power grid following such an event.
A House Bill called the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (HR 3410) would, if passed, require the federal government to "proactively educate" owners of critical infrastructure about the risks of EMPs. The bill is currently stalled in committee.
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