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From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2001 03:49:02 -0500 (CDT)

Forwarded from: Russell Coker <russell () coker com au>

On Fri, 21 Sep 2001 09:39, you wrote:

September 2001

In the blink of an eye, electromagnetic bombs could throw
civilization back 200 years. And terrorists can build them for

This is a very interesting article, but it fails to mention one
crucial point.  What is the effect of an EMP weapon on magnetic

It would not be difficult to have some Faraday cages filled with spare
circuit boards ready for an EMP attack.  Then even if high power
surges took out shielded computers the damaged parts could be quickly
replaced.  As long as the data isn't lost it's not that much of a

Even the electronics in hard drives can be replaced, and I'm sure it
wouldn't be difficult to manufacture hard drives with all the
electronics on a module for fast replacement.

But if the EMP will wipe the platters of the hard drives then the
problem is much worse.  Then of course there's the issue of how well
magnetic tape stands up to such treatment (should be much more
reliable than hard drives due to lack of electronics in the media
package, and the fact that the media is tightly wound so only a small
section should be at great risk).  If you lose your computers and hard
drives but have a good working recent backup then you still aren't
doing so badly.

If EMP pulses can easily wipe out magnetic tape then possibly other
backup media should be investigated.  I imagine that a CD-RW would not
be at risk as the phase-change chemicals would be unlikely to be
easily corrupted, is that a good assumption?

Russell Coker

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