Harden Against An Emp Attack

A nuclear bomb produces an electromagnetic pulse that plays havoc with circuits.

Although the world no longer sits on the edge of a nuclear war as it did during the years of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, there is still a risk of nuclear attack. One of the tactics that was studied heavily during the Cold War was the use of nuclear devices to produce electromagnetic pulses (EMPs). An EMP attack would not kill people, but would render electronics useless. With today’s military very dependant on technology, techniques to harden equipment against an EMP attack are still relevant.


1. Replace copper wiring wherever possible. Copper is a conductor that will carry the pulse into pieces of equipment, even if that equipment is within an otherwise protected environment. The simplest and most useful replacement is of network cables. Switching to fiber-optic cables ensures that pulses will not spread in a network, as fiber optics are nonconductive. Optical equipment should be used wherever possible; wireless equipment should be avoided, as it broadcasts in the RF spectrum that would be disturbed by an EMP.

2. Disconnect from the electrical grid. An EMP could cause a massive power surge beyond the power of surge protectors to stop. To avoid this, power your systems from a generator.This generator should be as simple as possible and not contain any electronic components, to avoid EMP disruption. A basic gasoline generator can be placed in a shielded area and work at all times. While other off-grid options such as solar panels or wind turbines would also work, they run the risk of transmitting an EMP down the wires connecting them to your equipment, as they must be placed out in the open. If these are installed, very careful shielding must be installed around them and any cables running from them.

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3. Shield any copper cables with metal. Thick tubing will block a good portion of the RF energy from reaching sensitive equipment.

4. Build Faraday cages. These are enclosures of copper mesh that surround equipment and absorb incoming electromagnetic energy. For Faraday cages to be effective, they must not have any gaps. All lines running outside of the cage must have an optical break in them, all doorways must have airlocks with insulating material between the doors, and all doors, windows and vents need flexible seals. A Faraday cage could be built around an equipment cupboard, a room or a whole facility, with material that is easy to find in surplus from the military’s Cold War hardening programs.