Electromagnetic Pulse Attacks Are A Real Threat And The USAF Is Guarding Against Them

us air force surveying emp vulnerable equipment and electronics
Nuclear bombs and electromagnetic pulses are heard about in pop culture, but is it a real threat in the modern era? A U.S Air Force base in Texas seems to think there is at least some risk and is surveying a facility to find anything vulnerable to EMP attacks. 

Officials at Joint Base San Antonio in Lackland, Texas, recently issued a bid request to survey a facility called the Petroleum, Oil, and Lubrication Complex. This survey would help identify any electronics or other equipment that could be vulnerable to an EMP before a further investigation occurs. Following both the survey and deeper investigation, the Air Force would look into protecting the equipment should an EMP attack occur.

us air force surveying emp vulnerable equipment and electronics geo storm
Map Of Voltages Induced On Power If A Geomagnetic Superstorm Occured (Courtesy of USGS)

Department of Homeland Security, alongside the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), describes an EMP as being “associated with intentional attacks using high-altitude nuclear detonations, specialized conventional munitions, or non-nuclear directed energy devices.” An EMP can result in local, regional, or continental effects depending on the strength. These effects can include the permanent damage or disabling of large swaths of the U.S power grid and other critical infrastructure control systems. Similarly, an EMP could be caused by a “naturally occurring geomagnetic disturbance” or GMD, such as when “plasma from the sun, with its embedded magnetic field, arrives at Earth.”

Ultimately, even though this may sound scary, it is not a new development nor a massive threat by any means. In 2019, former President Donald Trump signed executive order 13865, which “charge[d] the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with coordinating national resilience, preparedness, and response from an EMP and GMD event.” Moreover, an EMP attack would be difficult to carry out, whereas a cyberattack would be significantly easier and stealthier.

Either way, it seems that Air Force officials and CISA have the right idea investigating EMP-vulnerable infrastructure. Perhaps this will lead to other vulnerabilities, such as backdoors, being found while simultaneously preparing for an extreme yet rare event to occur. Effectively, this seems to be more of an audit for equipment, but let us know what you think in the comments below.