Growing Threats and Hazards of Electromagnetic Disruption


Electronics are all around us. They are a part of everything we do in modern society, and we are heavily dependent on them to keep our world and our daily lives running smoothly. Anything containing electronics can be disrupted. 


The threat posed by Electromagnetic (EM) disruption - also known as Intentional and unintentional EM interference (IEMI and EMI); EM Pulse (EMP); and Electronic Attack is increasingly critical given the reliance of today’s society on sophisticated electronics systems for critical functionality. Electromagnetic disruption is also unique in that, because it is a radiofrequency attack, it doesn’t require a physical connection to the equipment to attack it – it can be done at distance. As a result, it can not be detected by traditional cyber-physical security approaches, and quite often leaves no trace.


As our cities, services and key industries increasingly embrace technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Autonomous ‘everything’ as part of what is dubbed the 4th Industrial revolution; we are facing highly complex, interconnected environments which are increasingly dependent on the performance and resilience of digital electronic infrastructure. Combined with a historic lack of understanding of this threat, this rush for connectivity is creating wide vulnerabilities in systems and networks, which are leaving digital infrastructures open to Electromagnetic disruption. This presents serious and significant business continuity, reputational and life threatening risks.


Any organisation looking to protect its infrastructure should look to ensure that EM disruptive  threats and hazards are managed in collaboration with cyber and physical security to form an overarching resilience strategy, in-line with legislative guidance.


The cornerstone of effective resilience and timely recovery is informed decision making and therefore detection and attribution of EM disruption is vital to this process.