While not your typical conversation around data centers, given the current unrest around the world and numerous threats from countries that are unhappy with current U.S. policy, we should give some thought about protecting our data centers from EMP attacks.

Is there a feasible solution if your business stays where it is or should you just turn to a data center mover to get out of big cities and stay safe to save yourself millions of dollars, if not your entire business?

An EMP is an electromagnetic pulse that travels like a radio signal. If you think about the reach of a radio signal, you know that an EMP signal will penetrate concrete walls. There are both natural and artificial occurrences that cause these EMP events. Solar flares are a natural disaster. Pulses created by a Marx generator and antenna will generate high voltage pulses that can be directed at single buildings.

And now that we have nuclear threats from some of the BRICS nations, we should draw our attention to the fact that the resulting energy pulse could wipe out electronics across large areas. When a nuclear weapon is detonated at a high altitude, it emits gamma rays which increase in mass as they travel perpendicular to the magnetic field, creating a high-power pulse at the ground level. We would have no time to react to an event like this nor have any measure to protect any type of equipment. It could possibly wipe out the entire electric grid, incapacitating the entire country. If you think about it, an EMP is a far deadlier weapon of war than a bomb.

An EMP pulse could drop planes, fry cars, shut down electric, shut off vital systems run by electric, shut down the internet, etc. The outcome would be devastating, many lives would be lost, and it would take years to recover. You probably wouldn’t be thinking about your data center under the circumstances.

While not practical for the city setting, some companies have built surge protected facilities using galvanized steel or copper that are completely sealed from electron entry. Outside services like electric, heat and cooling must be brought in through special cabling. Chances are, our military has such facilities built with huge government budgets. You wouldn’t expect most businesses to have the means to fund such facilities unless they were backed by government funding.
Realistically, there’s probably not much the average person can do to protect him or herself from being impacted. An EMP pulse can even penetrate rock miles beneath the Earth’s surface. 

The only control we have is in choosing the leaders who communicate with these countries. The only benefactors of war and weaponry are the companies who manufacture them. Hopefully, we won’t live to see an EMP attack in our lifetime. It would be a complete devolution of all the technological advances we have made over the past few decades. It might be a good time to brush up on your camping skills, buy candles, propane tanks and flashlights.