Electromagnetic Pulse Events: Shielding Critical Infrastructure

Critical infrastructure (CI) such as the National Public Warning System and other communications equipment, electrical grids, and water and wastewater systems, amongst others, are at risk of damage from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) events, whether naturally occurring from solar flares or intentional attacks. In a recent report published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), best practices are provided for federal, state, local agencies and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators to employ in order to protect against the effects of a potential EMP event.

Electromagnetic Pulse Shielding Mitigations: Best Practices for Protection of Mission Critical Equipment, discusses three options of protection:

  1. EMP-Protected Equipment Enclosures;
  2. EMP-Protected Shelters; and
  3. EMP-Protected Rooms or Buildings.

DHS mentions that the type of protection recommended should be assessed by a firm that specializes in EMP protection based on “the system’s architecture and design, location, geography, materials, POEs [points of entry] that allow external EM energy penetrations, and ancillary equipment.” Also noted in this best practices guide are procedural operations to put into place for prepared responses in the situation of an EMP event.

For more resources related to this piece, check out HSDL’s In Focus on Electromagnetic PulseCyber Infrastructure Protection and Energy Security.

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