We are all familiar with the power of electromagnetic attacks from the movies: in Ocean‘s Eleven, George Clooney’s gang disables Las Vegas’ power grid, and Keanu Reeves’ henchmen hold off the enemy robot fighters from their spaceship in the Matrix Trilogy.
Tools for defending against electromagnetic attack (right to left): an antenna set (on tripod) for sensing the environment, a RF measuring device for conditioning the signals and a computer that calculates the relevant data.
© Fraunhofer INT
The heroes in the films succeed by sending out a very strong electromagnetic pulse. This changes the voltage in the vicinity so that regulators, switches, and circuit boards in electronic equipment go crazy. You cannot smell, taste, or feel this radiation. Those affected by it do not know why computers or machines breakdown or from which direction the attack comes.
“What works on the silver screen is also conceivable in reality,” confirms Michael Jöster from the Fraunhofer Institute for Technological Trend Analysis INT in Euskirchen, just south of Cologne, Germany. The researchers there are concentrating on the question of how these attacks can be detected. They have developed a measurement instrument for this purpose that is capable of determining the strength, fre- quency, and direction of electromagnetic attacks. The engineering requirements are steep: the detector must measure very high field strengths from very short pulses, yet not be destroyed or damaged itself.
Identifying the type, location, and duration of the attacks
Four specialized antennas make up the INT demonstration instrument that sample the environment around the subject device to be protected. Each of these covers a quadrant of 90 degrees and detects all types of electromagnetic sources.
A high-frequency module preconditions the signals for measurement and determines when the electromagnetic pulse started and stopped. A computer in a monitoring station connected via an optical conductor then calculates the values for the signal and presents them on a screen. “We identify the type and location of the source of the invisible attack as well as its duration as though we had a sixth sense.
Those affected by the attack can use this information to mount a rapid and appropriate protective response,” explains Jöster. The threat scenarios are real: criminals disrupt computer networks of banks, exchanges, and companies. They cause confusion in order to bypass monitoring points or overcome alarm systems, en- abling them to penetrate into secure areas.
Individual cases of these kinds of attacks have already been documented: thieves used electromagnetic waves to crack the security sys- tems of limousines in Berlin. Their weapons are no larger than a suitcase. High-power microwave sources are suitable for those kinds of attacks, for example. Depending on the field strength, the attacker using these high-power microwaves can be located several meters from the target of the attack.
“Located In the right position, it is enough to press a button to trigger the pulse. Just like in Ocean’s Eleven or Matrix, the electronic systems nearby can fail or be damaged,” as Jöster describes the danger.
Electronic devices can withstand a certain amount of radiation. This is measured in volts per meter (V/m) – called the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). Otherwise, they would not operate reliably. Every device could interfere with others in its immediate vicinity. Depending on the category of usage, they therefore have to fulfill specific EMC requirements. These are significantly higher for industrial applications than for common things like Smartphones, televisions, or stereo equipment. One example where safety is important is automotive engineering.
“The importance of electronic components will continue to increase in the future. Completely shielding individual devices from electromagnetic radiation would certainly be theoretically possible, but much too expensive though. Systems are needed that can detect these kinds of attacks. If you know what is attacking, you can also react correctly to it,” according to Jöster.
Michael Jöster | Fraunhofer-Institute
Improved stability of plastic light-emitting diodes
19.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung
Intelligent components for the power grid of the future
18.04.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.
Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...
The Atlantic overturning – one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards – is weaker today than any time before in more than 1000 years. Sea surface temperature data analysis provides new evidence that this major ocean circulation has slowed down by roughly 15 percent since the middle of the 20th century, according to a study published in the highly renowned journal Nature by an international team of scientists. Human-made climate change is a prime suspect for these worrying observations.
“We detected a specific pattern of ocean cooling south of Greenland and unusual warming off the US coast – which is highly characteristic for a slowdown of the...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
19.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
19.04.2018 | Life Sciences
18.04.2018 | Materials Sciences