In the past week the Sun showered the Earth with two storms of charged plasma (big storms like these are known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs). Thankfully, neither hit the planet in such a way as to cause global power outages, but each had that potential. In a similar way, a nuclear weapon detonated in the atmosphere by terrorists or a belligerent nation could cause an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that could take down the power grid. Congress and the Defense Department take the threat of EMP very seriously and thought should be given by all Americans to how they might prepare for such an event.
Every day Americans are storing more of their data and records in “the cloud.” The cloud exists as massive data centers strewn along the backbone of America’s internet infrastructure. Given that all those data centers are run on electricity and include perhaps trillions of transistors and miles of wire, they’re prime targets for the type of destruction an EMP or CME can produce. The Boyers, PA facility is the first of four. Cyber Innovation Labs, one of the companies responsible for building the data center for a Fortune 500 insurance company describes the center here:
The solution entailed the construction and commissioning of a 2,000 square foot, 200 kW enterprise data center located in the Northwest region of Pennsylvania. The facility included all shielding, housing, filtering and hardening of all electrical, mechanical and power infrastructure and subsystems, and adhered to MILSTD-188-125-1/2 standards. A unique discriminator for this EMP facility rests in the fact that it is a 360o tested, certified and resilient Tier 3+ data center shell that upholds five survivable platforms.
The facility represents the delivery of the first of four ultra-protected data center facilities with additional structures scheduled for Q1 2015 in New York City, NY, Mt. Prospect, IL (Chicago) and Harrisonburg, VA.
Michael Caruso, director of government and specialty business development for ETS-Lindgren added, “ETS-Lindgren Inc. has noted a significant increase in requirements for non-governmental EMP protected data centers over the past six months. With recent trends in locating data centers in underground locations, the requirements have included adding EMP shielding with all points of entry, treated to underground facilities. In the past, underground facilities have been mistakenly and incorrectly considered EMP protected by virtue of their being underground.” Caruso went on to say that “Underground facilities would be protected if they were completely isolated underground without any connections or signal paths to the above-ground world. However, the exceptionally high field strengths (10,000 to 50,000 volts per meter) of an HEMP or high yield IEMI device, can easily couple through multiple paths and enter a facility due to the above-ground connections necessary to have an underground facility function.”