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 I run Irongeek.com  I have an interest in InfoSec education  I don’t know everything - I’m just a geek with time on my hands.

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Presentation on theme: " I run Irongeek.com  I have an interest in InfoSec education  I don’t know everything - I’m just a geek with time on my hands."— Presentation transcript:

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2  I run Irongeek.com  I have an interest in InfoSec education  I don’t know everything - I’m just a geek with time on my hands  I’m an (Ir)regular on the InfoSec Daily Podcast:  Sr. Information Security Engineer at a Fortune 1000  Co-Founder of Derbycon

3  EMP = Electromagnetic Pulse  A powerful burst of radio waves cause by quickly changing electromagnetic fields  Has the effect of inducing currents into conductors and can “burn” them up or cause interference  Early British term was “Radioflash”

4  I don’t consider myself a prepper or survivalist (but I did collect a lot of Paladin Press books as a kid)  I like the smell of fried electronics (as long as they ain’t mine)  Lots of scare monger videos, justified or not, but little with the science behind EMP  It fit the theme!

5  Signal to Noise is high on this subject  Many people will speak authoritatively, but not know the actual fact  Tried searching for site:mil and site:gov  Limited practical testing seems to have been done  Radio Waves do weird things…  When/where was the testing done?  Audience  Some stuff is classified  Some stuff aims toward the non technical  I’m not an expert either, so take all this with a huge grain of salt

6  ???

7  Ever run a vacuum/electric motor while watching an analog TV?  Sparks cause a broad band of radio waves to propagate, which can cause interference.

8  Changing magnetic fields cause current in a conductor  Current in a conductor cause a magnetic field + -

9  Distance? 1/(d^3) vs. 1/(d^2) Image from

10 Image from

11  Apparently EMP was expected by Enrico Fermi, and equipment during the Trinity test (July 16, 1945) was shielded in anticipation of it  Apparently some recording were lost due to “spurious pickup”  Greater interest came about after Starfish Prime Hi Guys!!!

12  High altitude test of a nuclear weapon on July 9, 1962  1.4 megaton W49 thermonuclear warhead detonated 250mi (400km) above a point about 19 miles southwest of Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean  EMP effect was greater than anticipated

13  Drove instruments off the scale, presumably as expectations of the effect was lower  Damaged electrical systems 898 miles away in Hawaii  300 street lights blown  Telephone microwave link damaged  Set off burglar alarms  Further tests in the “Operation Fishbowl” series gave more data on EMP’s effects

14  E1 – Very short, powerful burst that induce high currents in conductors.  E2 – Comes shortly after E1. Somewhat akin to the EM effects of a lightning strike. Many systems may already be prepared, but precursor damage from E1 may soften them up.  E3 – Longer, slower pulse that can last many seconds caused by the Earth’s magnetic field being pushed out of the way. Can induce current in long conductors and cause damage to power systems.

15  Volts per Meter – V/m – Voltage across a one Meter conductor as the magnetic field sweeps across it.  EMP: 100,000 V/m Ground Burst  Radar: 200 V/m  Radio Communications: 10 V/m  Metropolitan Noise: 0.1 V/m Ball park figures from

16  If you are too close, you are already having a bad day! Image source

17  Surface/Near Surface Burst – Ground level  EMP is an issue, but other effects may take precedence  Geography limits area  Air density limit range  High Altitude – above 30km  20km to 40km is where we get the Compton effect  Can hit a larger area  Saturation at about 50,000V/m  500km burst could cover continental United State  Air Burst m, maybe below 30km?  Not as interesting for EMP* *

18  SREMP = Source Region EMP (low/surface burst)  HEMP = High-altitude EMP  MHD-EMP = Magnetohydrodynamic EMP Caused by shifting of Earth’s magnetic field  SGEMP = System Generated EMP Caused by Gamma/X-Rays hitting the outside of a satellite/space craft  NNEP = Non-Nuclear EMP

19 Net Electron Current Ground absorbs some Gamma. + Current Return Path Through Ground Outward Radiating EMP. +

20 Net Electron Current Caused By Atmospheric Density Gradient Leading To Weak Vertical Dipole Gamma Rays Cause “Compton Scattering”, Knocking Electrons Out Of Molecules In The Air, Causing A Charge Seperation

21 EMPEMP EMPEMP EMPEMP Gamma Rays knock Electrons out of air molecules (Compton Effect) at about 20 to 40km altitude in a mostly down direction Gamma Rays caused by detonation Electrons direction effect by Earth’s magnetic field, now we have EMP Gamma ray diffusion and other effects cause delayed E2

22 Earth’s magnetic field just sitting there, minding it’s own business Detonation happens “Fireball” affects magnetic permeability, causing changes in Earth’s magnetic field

23  Lots of interference Image source

24  Latitude and Altitude make a big difference Image from Wikipedia/Figure from page 76 of the book, "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons" by Samuel Glasstone and Phillip J. Dolan edition published by the United States Department of Defense. {{PD-USGov}} Used to illustrate the concept of magnetic conjugate regions

25  Altitude  Yield and Construction  Distance from detonation  Geography  Magnetic Field Strength

26  0.115–0.5% of nuke’s energy is Prompt Gamma Yield  Starfish Prime was 1.4MT, but 0.1% PGY, so 1.4Kt for EMP effect  500Kt Nuke optimized for 0.5% PGY would give 2.5Kt for EMP effect  Pre-ionization in thermonuclear bombs may cause less EMP effects to take place than more primitive fission weapons Image from

27 Image from

28  Direct – in through the holes  Induced  Antennas  Satellite Dishes  Power Lines  Network Cables  Telephone Wire  Other Cables  Plumbing

29  Functional Damage – Over load, hit break down voltage, heat up and fry! Blue smoke is gone, it’s dead Jim!  Operational Damage – Circuit upset for transient current. Circuit breaker blown, or circuit logic disturbed. Pulled from

30 Can you optimize a nuclear bomb to have more of an EMP effect?  Reduce ionization from heat  Make case and explosive gamma transparent  Produce as much gamma as quick as possible

31  What about just the EMP, without the other nasty nuke effects?  Effect electrical systems, but not buildings/roads  “Force Multiplier” from loss of enemy communications  Less (immediate) deaths = less political ramifications?

32  Charge capacitors in parallel, discharge in series Images from ATLAS-I/ The Sandia Trestle Marx Generator

33  EPFCG uses a magnetic field with conventional explosives (many configurations)  Below is a “Helical generator” +-+- Coil Armature Capacitor High Explosive

34  Ever put a CD in the Microwave?  Can fry/disrupt equipment  Can effect humans in negative ways  Some people make homemade versions from old Microwave oven’s magnetron, wave guide, and other parts Active Denial System Image from Wikipedia

35  VIRtual CAthode oscillaTOR Image from

36  Tied with “space weather” like sunspot and solar flares and Coronal mass ejection  Messes with Earth’s magnetic field  More akin to the effect of E3  Largest recorded was September 1 – 2, 1859, really screwing with the telegraph system  March 1989 Geomagnetic Storm had its way with Hydro-Québec's power grid

37  Things can be unpredictable  Solid State, fall down go boom, let magic blue smoke out (maybe)  Thermionic technology (Vacuum Tubes) more resilient but not perfect. Also, try building a modern computer from them. There are also power concerns.  Fiber optic: No conduct mean no fry  Shorter conductors are better

38 Image source

39  Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV)  Is it fast enough?  E1 peaks at ~5ns  Can signal propagate other ways?  Electromagnetic arresting devices? MOV Fuse EAD Image based on one from

40 I’m soooo in need of better test data  Tradition Fossil Fuel Generators  Hydro Electric  SCADA Systems  Transformers  Solar  Wind  Voltage regulation circuits?  Charging components?

41  Faraday Cage  Fiber Optic Cable Preferred  What about power lines in?  Water?  Any holes?  Propagation direction  Grounded?  For slow moving magnetic fields (<100kHz) look into Permalloy or Mu-metal X Metal Shell Earth Ground Insulator

42 Seal those holes! Mesh of size to stop microwaves Fiber optic in Doubles as Tempest shield Image from

43  Microwave  File Cabinets  Trashcans  Ammo Boxes  Metal Mailbox  Foil Wrapped Containers?  Anti-Static Bag?  Mesh with holes less than 1/10 diameter of wavelength to be blocked (NSWAG)

44  Unplug gear  Disconnect antennas  Have spares  Use voltage clipping devices  Avoid large conductor loops  Shielded conduit and cables  Bury lines (though I have heard mixed opinions)

45  EMP Commission Report (April 2008)  The Effects of Nuclear Weapons Chapter 11 (Compiled and edited by Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan)  FEMA 128-Attack Environment Manual-Chapter 4  Wikipedia EMP Article  Electromagnetic Pulse Threats in 2010 by Colin R. Miller, Major, USAF  The Electromagnetic Bomb - a Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction Carlo Kopp  The Early-Time (E1) High-Altitude  Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and Its Impact on the U.S. Power Grid by Edward Savage, James Gilbert, and William Radasky  Future Science EMP Page

46  Conference organizers for having me  By buddies from Derbycon and the ISDPodcast  Open Icon Library for some of my images

47 Derbycon ??? Others Photo Credits to KC (devauto) Derbycon Art Credits to DigiP

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