Google

M.Div, Psy.D, D. Min

Cyber Threats, Extreme Solar Events and EMPs


Joseph N. Pelton
International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety
Indu Singh
Los Alamos Technical Associates (LATA) &
LATA Global Institute for Security & Training (GIST)

Elena Sitnikova
Australian Centre for Cyber Security




Abstract



Leon Panetta, former head of the Department of Defense warned in 2012 that inadequate controls and protections could expose the United States of America to a massive cyber-attack and called for new laws and actions applicable to governmental and corporate cyber networks. A bill known as the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA) passed the U.S. House of Representatives as of December 2014 and has been referred to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. If enacted into law, it would provide for increased protection against electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) and extreme solar weather events – all capable of severely damaging America’s power, telecommunications and IT networks for years to come and requiring billions, if not trillions, of dollars in repairs (H.R. 3410). This article explains the extent of these threats, discusses their likelihood of occurrence, and provides recommendations regarding five initial steps needed to prevent a total collapse of vital US infrastructure – this latter outcome potentially leading to the demise of economically-developed countries worldwide.

Keywords: Carrington Event, Circuit Breakers, Communications Satellites, Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA), Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), Cyber Threats, Extreme Solar Events and EMPs, Faraday Cage, Geomagnetosphere, Geomagnetically Induced Currents (GICs), Global Positioning Satellite (GPS), Homeland Security Act, Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NIRIC), Planetary Defense, Polar Shifts, Power Grid, Radiation Hardening, SCADA, Solar Flares, Van Allen Belts

Target Audiences Target audiences for this article include but are not limited to: professionals at technical, management and executive levels working in: US government agencies, federal contracting firms; the US armed forces, critical infrastructure-related organizations, banking and financial institutions, multinational and domestic corporations, cyber/IT-related service/consulting firms, other professional service/consulting firms.

Program Level: Intermediate.

Learning Objectives

  1. 1.    To better understand the risks to modern economies of extreme solar events and the types of vulnerabilities that can occur to satellites and critical ground infrastructure.
  2. 2.    To learn of current steps that are underway to respond to extreme solar events and electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) such as the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA) and possible defensive strategies that might be undertaken.
  3. 3.    To examine five specific areas of vulnerability and the nature of some defensive steps that might be undertaken with regard to: (i) commercial and defense-related satellites; (ii) terrestrial electric power grids; (iii) SCADA networks; (iv) mobile and Wi-Fi systems; (v) the Internet, LANs, MANs, WANs.



Introduction


The world in general and the USA in particular need greater protection of the critical infrastructure systems which account for some 90% of the jobs in economically-developed countries. If these vital infrastructure elements are wiped out by solar “kill shots,” it would take years to restore and billions - if not trillions - of dollars in repairs, and the U.S. and most economically-advanced countries would literally not survive as we know them today. There are particular vulnerabilities to the world’s interlinked electrical grids, to a wide variety of civil and military satellites, to Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) networks, Wi-Fi and mobile communications networks, as well as complex networks of LANs, MANs, WANs, enterprise networks and the overall Internet. These systems have become the “brains” of modern global life. Without them almost everything shuts down: energy supplies, banking, transportation systems, radar tracking systems, water treatment and sewage systems, irrigation controls, traffic light controls, and hundreds of other critical functions of today’s world. This article thus notes the extent of our vulnerabilities and provides initial guidance on how we can better protect ourselves against a total collapse of our vital infrastructure through a five point plan of action.

There is increasing evidence that solar flares, solar coronal mass ejections (CME), and changes to the Earth’s protective geomagnetosphere could result in cataclysmic disasters. In July 2012, there was a CME of epic proportions (see Figure 1), where the ions in that CME travelled at 7 million miles an hour and would have reached Earth in 18 hours had the ejection exploded in the direction of Earth. If this event had occurred a week later, it would have indeed become the so-called “kill shot” that would have wiped out our electric grids around the world and probably have taken out many of our satellites as well. This event would have been worse than the Carrington event of 1859 that set telegraph offices on fire and brought the Northern Lights as far south as Hawaii and Cuba for a number of days (Robinson, 2014).

Meanwhile the Earth’s natural defenses appear to be weakening. The latest research indicates that the Earth’s magnetosphere has decreased in its effectiveness by some 15% in the last two centuries. If this is leading up to a reversal of the Earth’s poles, then the protective shield of the magnetosphere could be seriously weakened so that we would virtually lose all effective protection. Modeling by German scientists have calculated that during the magnetic pole shift the Earth’s magnetic defense against coronal mass ejections could degrade to only 5% of today’s levels(Zolfagharifard, 2014).

Figure 1

Figure 1: Image of a Coronal Mass Ejection like the 2012 Solar Event
That Could Have Destroyed Our Cyber and Power Networks

Adapted from NASA.gov, 2014; Retrieved from
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/multimedia/potw/potww-08.html.
NASA image reprinted with permission.

In a report to the January 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland entitled “Bringing Space Down to Earth,” the world economic leaders received the following characterization of the problem: Catastrophic risks from space are low-likelihood but high-impact events. Extreme space weather, for example, could harm satellites, disrupt pipelines and telecommunication networks, and collapse electric grids” (World Economic Forum, 2014).

This is unfortunately a sugar-coated explanation of the extent of the problem. An extreme solar event such as the July 2012 Coronal Mass Ejection—if it had hit Earth—would have likely wiped out most electric power grids for some 18 months, knocked out the Internet and most of our satellites, shut down most air travel and electronic banking, disrupted food supplies, impacted water and sewage systems, and adversely affected perhaps 50% to 80% of the jobs on the planet. Some experts have suggested that over 80% to 90% of people living in large cities would die—largely due to starvation (The [US] Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse [EMP] Attack, 2008, p. 146; Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse [EMP] Attack, 2004).In an attempt to codify potential economic losses, the internationally-acclaimed scientist and futurist Dr. Michio Kaku, has estimated the simple property damage from a major EMP hit could be $2 trillion dollars. But if that loss included almost all of our electrical grids and most of our satellites, the cascading damages could be much, much worse (Bell, 2013).

In short, without an improved disaster warning, protective, response and recovery plan, a severe solar storm could disable our satellites, shut down our electrical power systems, take out a host of vital services, and destroy food supply chains. Life and the global economy could be set back a hundred years by such a catastrophic event.

For too long the nature and extent of cosmic threats and the need for planetary defense have been underestimated and also greatly misunderstood. Rapid changes in global population (i.e. a rise from 800 million in 1800 to perhaps 10 billion in 2100) are of major concern. A surging increase in the number of megacities around the world affects our vulnerability. The constant rise over the last few centuries from 5% urban to perhaps 70% urban is adding to our risk profile. By the end of the 21st century, we will have perhaps over 50 megacities that will represent a population of over 2 billion people concentrated in small, congested areas. Finally, we live in a world where service jobs will dominate global employment. Vital electric power grids are becoming more interconnected and the Internet is dependent on exact time synchronization supplied from space by the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system. In quantitative terms, we are fifty times more vulnerable to cosmic hazards than just a few centuries ago due to concentrated urbanization, reliance on technology and a shift to a largely service economy.

The Franks and Sessions bill mentioned in this article’s abstract would represent an important place to begin positively dealing with these issues. The bill would require that future national disaster and emergency planning include the threat of EMP events in scenarios considered, and that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proactively conducts a campaign to educate critical infrastructure owners and operators, emergency planners and responders at all governmental levels about the threat of EMP events. It would also require research to better understand the threat levels and possible mitigation strategies (H.R. 3410).

What we would like to emphasize here is that the strategies outlined make sense even without the EMP threat. Such measures increase urban resilience during other types of major disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes that can also take out electrical power and IT networks, etc. This is the fundamental message about multi-purpose urban resiliency made in our recent book: The Safe City: Living Free in a Dangerous World (Singh& Pelton, 2013).



New Evidence about Threats


Currently billions of dollars are being invested in upgrading U.S. electrical power grids to make them smarter. The same is true around the world. These “smart “systems are more capable of managing peak loads, working with district energy systems to level the load throughout the day, and to make existing energy nets more efficient. The one factor that has not been given appropriate priority in these smart energy grid upgrades is to make them more resilient against EMPs, CMEs and Geomagnetic Induced Currents (GICs).

One might suggest that the Internet was designed to achieve ultimate survivability. Since it is a web of over 50,000 nets woven together, it is very resilient and incredibly decentralized. Thousands of web components could go offline and tens of thousands would still function. Despite this, a serious problem remains: to operate as a whole, the Internet is glued together by time synchronization. This time synchronization is achieved via the GPS space navigation and timing satellite network. This can be switched to localized timing systems during negative events, but over a period of hours and certainly days; the synchronization will largely break down. In short, the fear is not that networks would physically shut down, but that the loss of time synchronization would eventually unravel the network.

A parallel and perhaps even greater problem is that severe solar storms have significant potential to bring down the electrical power system by burning up power transformers made highly vulnerable due to their active earth grounding. Furthermore, when a solar storm involving a massive CME occurs, the subsequent strike can and does hit pipelines and conduits which then results in it traveling long distances to erupt perhaps hundreds of kilometers away. And these are only some of the damages taking place at ground level.

There are many ways in which a CME, an EMP, or even a solar flare could damage a satellite, a number of satellites, or in the most extreme case, virtually all current satellite infrastructure. Again, there is very limited appreciation of the implications of what a massive failure of satellites would mean. The world’s dependence on satellites is now very broad. Satellite television is behind most cable television networks and tens of millions subscribe to direct broadcast satellites. Over a hundred countries have a major dependency on satellites for Internet connectivity and many more use satellites for some form of IT networking. Weather satellites are essential for storm and violent weather forecasting. Meteorological satellites provide vital information with regard to climate change, solar weather, and other critical information. Remote sensing provides an incredible range of vital services. Space navigation systems have now become embedded into the fabric of modern living.

The nature of these vulnerabilities and possible protective or mitigating actions as well as potential recovery modes will be addressed below. The threshold issue is a clear recognition that there is a potential large scale risk to societies worldwide and clearly definable vulnerabilities with regard to global infrastructure on which much of the world’s economy currently depends. This is the very worthwhile thrust of H.R. Bill 3410 introduced by Congressmen Sessions and Franks that has now passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is pending in the U.S. Senate.

This type of major disaster and vulnerability to vital infrastructure is not a theoretical or hypothetical concern. The 1989 CME that wiped out a number of power transformers and created blackouts from Chicago, Illinois to Montreal, Canada was very real (see Figure 2 below). This event was of a magnitude far less than the 1859 Carrington Event that ignited telegraph offices on fire and terrorized the world in a day when there were no electrical grids, information networks, or a global economy highly dependent on the Internet and modern telecommunications. The July 2012CME “kill shot event” that mercifully ejected out into deep space and missed Earth would very likely have impacted the world’s electronic transformers in a devastating way and perhaps totally disabled our communications, weather, remote sensing and navigation satellites. The bottom line is that with our increasingly urban and power and IT-dependent world, we are much more vulnerable than ever before.

Figure 2AFigure 2B

Figures 2a and 2b: Destroyed Transformer in Chicago, Illinois from March 13, 1989 Event
Adapted from NASA Science News, 2014, Retrieved from
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/06may_carringtonflare/.
Adapted with permission.

The question that is most appropriate to ask here is what can we do to protect against severe solar weather? What can be done to prevent solar blasts or EMPs from wiping out our electrical power grids, essential IT networks and vital space infrastructure? These are facilities and services on which we depend for an amazing range of things essential to modern life. The possibility of resulting economic losses could be in the billions if not trillions of dollars. Further, what do we do about protecting Earth from city-killing asteroids? Do we need a program to coordinate actions to protect against cosmic hazards and to create an integrated planetary defense initiative? Should all space agencies around the world have planetary defense against cosmic hazards as one of their top priorities in their strategic plans?



Exploring Vulnerabilities and Solutions for Key Infrastructure Hit by Cosmic Hazards


We are increasingly vulnerable to an EMP event. This might be caused by a massive CME or some other reason. Here, we will briefly explore just five areas of vulnerability. These are related to: satellite networks, terrestrial power grids, SCADA Networks, Wi-Fi and Mobile Communications Networks, and IT Networks, including Private LANs and the Internet. These unfortunately are just some of the vulnerable areas in question. In each case, the nature of the vulnerability will be discussed and some initial concepts about protective strategies offered to indicate the nature of needed research and areas of required action. Increasingly, the extent of this danger is being recognized and new solutions and protective actions sought (University of South Australia, 2014).

    A: Applications Satellites and Vital Military Space Programs:

    1. 1. The Vulnerability: The U.S.—and indeed much of the world—are today heavily dependent on telecommunications and various types of satellites including: broadcasting, navigation and timing, weather, remote sensing, surveillance, and space situational awareness ones. Over twenty thousand satellite video channels are the essential feed system for cable TV head-ends and television networks around the world. Without these satellites, most global news channels would not be able to function. The U.S. military Global Information Grid (GIG) is, in many ways, dependent on civil and military communications satellites. The GPS navigation and timing network now plays a critical role in time-stamping for banking transactions, and provides for the global synchronization of the Internet. GPS plays key roles in airplane departures and landings, security systems, and is vital to the accurate targeting of missile defense systems. Weather satellites play a crucial life and death role in the case of violent storms and in military operations as well. Remote sensing satellites carry out a key role today in various industries such as: fishing, mining, agriculture, forestry, map-making, hydrology, urban planning and many others. Nor are these space losses hypothetical with various failures having occurred since the 1990s: the Canadian communication satellite ANIK (1994), a Skynet satellite service malfunction due to a crippled AT&T Telstar 401 communication satellite (1997) and more. The loss of many or all of our satellites would cripple many functions almost instantly but worse, in only a few days, the shock waves from that disaster would penetrate almost everywhere into every service from transportation to energy from farming to all forms of news, banking, information and financial networking.

    2. 2. Defensive Strategies: The design of all types of application satellites should be rethought in terms of installing heavier-duty circuit breakers and surge protectors, designing in more resilient architecture, and satellite-based autonomous power-down capabilities based on anomalous solar activity triggers. There also needs to be additional research into CME alert triggers. Research conducted at Purdue University and Stanford University suggests that variations in isotope decay with materials with shorter half-lives might serve a predictor of solar flares and CMEs. More research on changes to the Earth’s magnetosphere is also needed. One of the key areas for study is improved protection of key infrastructure. The six spare GPS satellites now stored in the USA for future use and backup, for instance, should be stored in Faraday Cage protective systems. An inventory of key electronic components for defense satellites should be undertaken to identify what also needs to be stored inside of protective Faraday Cages. Vital information related to space systems and other key assets needs to be reviewed so as to ensure its safe storage against an EMP surge.


  1. B: Terrestrial Electrical Power Grids

    1. 1. Vulnerability: The massive electrical grid outage that took place in 1989from Chicago, Illinois to Montreal, Canada is indicative of the type of vulnerability that exists. The vertical integration of the electric power system originally envisioned by Thomas A. Edison almost 2 centuries ago needs to be revamped and decentralized over time. The massive power grid failure in Indiain 2012 where one grid failure triggered the next and left over a half billion people without power, for an extended period of time in some cases, is an indication that circuit breakers must be designed to avoid cascading power failures.

    2. 2. Defensive Strategies: The design of new energy systems based on photo-voltaic cells, wind and hydroelectric turbines, geothermal and ocean thermal energy conversion, etc. need to be designed to that they can operate independently of the grid. The key to such a design (particularly within district energy systems for vital infrastructure) is adequate longer-term energy storage systems. These can be fly-wheels, pumped water to be released via turbine, compressed air, or even “super batteries”. This decentralization of electrical power systems, coupled with energy storage systems over time is something that makes sense as protection against disasters such as earthquakes, violent storms or other natural disasters where power outages frequently occur (Koerner, 2009).


  2. C: SCADA Networks

    1. 1. Vulnerability: Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and other distributed control systems have been deployed worldwide to provide remote controls for power grids, gas, oil, water and sewage treatment and other distribution systems, traffic signals, public transport and industrial manufacturing systems. SCADA systems not only support many aspects of our day-to-day lives but also are critical to our well-being and the very existence of our respective economies. Disruption or loss of control of this critical infrastructure by an EMP or via a terrorist attack could truly have disastrous impacts. These might be on a city, a country or most of the worlds if, for instance, oil and gas distribution networks were to shut down. A SCADA network can cover hundreds if not thousands of kilometers, especially in the case of utility plants where controllers need to be placed along power lines or gas pipelines in very remote locations. There have been dozens of instances of solar events leading to SCADA malfunctions and railway mishaps since as early as 1921 with the New York Central Railroad. Other events in Norway, Sweden, Russia, and Germany have led to accidents and even loss of life in Norway in 2000(Eroshenko et al., 2010; Wik et al., 2009). But this is just the bad news about railways. Power line controls using SCADA technology have been disrupted in New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere. SCADA systems that control vast distributed oil and gas pipelines in many instances are dependent on GPS or radio communications links that can be and indeed have been adversely affected by solar events and GICs (Phillips, 2013).

    2. 2. Defensive Strategies: The key aspect of SCADA systems is that their continuous, effective performance and reliability is essential to sustain our modern way of life because they are so pervasive. Any natural hazards including solar storms, floods and fires could impact multiple critical infrastructures due to their complexity and interconnectivity. For example, a blackout in power grids will cause electricity distribution problems within the SCADA system and so result in traffic light control system and railway shut downs causing traffic chaos. Water and sewage systems and pipeline operations would likewise shutdown or malfunction. Thus, there is the need for taking a holistic and strategic approach in defending SCADA systems from solar events or man-made EMPs. We must consider various elements that contribute to the operation of SCADA systems. These include not only defensive technological solutions, but key processes, polices and their compliance; and finally people awareness and training.

      SCADA owners and operators should, at a minimum, undertake longer-term protection against EMPs, GICs, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters as follows:
      • put in place a system architectural design for resilient capabilities and communications strategies
      • consider including integrated back-up timing systems to accommodate the temporary loss of GPS because of interference or failure. Also, ensure that back-up power supplies are available.

      In the shorter term, the owners and operators of SCADA systems that are not essential for real-time system operations, should consider switching off key electronics or disconnecting the entire SCADA system during high alert periods. Absolutely vital systems should be shielded as much as economically viable. There are other options such as to employ encrypted machine-to-machine communications networks that could back-up or perhaps even replace SCADA systems. These would need back-up power capabilities and other precautionary steps taken as well.

  3. Wi-Fi and Mobile Communication

    1. 1. Vulnerability: During power grid failures, landline phones will not work, and mobile phones may eventually become unusable due to not being recharged, even if the mobile towers have emergency backup power generation capabilities. Furthermore, mobile communications that now play a critical role in delivering ambulance, police and fire services will be in high demand during emergency situations—including solar events when other critical infrastructure elements are themselves under exceptional stress. According to a Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) report, terrestrial mobile communication networks are considered to be vulnerable to solar events. Several of the various emergency communication networks are dependent on GPS timing and could be vulnerable to solar events; however some mitigation strategies are already in place. In the UK, commercial mobile communication networks and the Internet are thought to be somewhat more resilient than in other countries as they are not now totally reliant on GPS (The Royal Academy of Engineering, 2011).

    2. 2. Defensive Strategies: According to this UK RAE report, all terrestrial mobile communication networks with critical resiliency requirements should also be able to operate without GPS Network User Services (GNUS) timing for periods up to three days. This should particularly include upgrades to the network including those associated with the new 4G licenses where these are used for critical purposes and upgrades to the emergency services communications networks. Despite these standards, some experts believe that synchronization based on terrestrially-available timing systems will lose synchronization within 24 hours. In the case of a catastrophic loss of GPS systems, 1 day or 3 days to failure is simply a matter of time to failure. Currently there are a number of GPS spare satellites on the ground within the USA that could be launched in response to the partial or complete loss of GPS systems worldwide. A key concern about them, though, is whether these backup systems are presently stored in Faraday cages that would protect them against EMP or GIC events. Further study of radio noise effects on mobile communication base stations should be undertaken to quantify the impact of various types of failure modes. The other major worry is the loss of electrical power needed to recharge phones and to operate cell towers. Today’s power grids and transformers are simply not adequately protected against GICs or EMPs. Many would say that protective systems are too expensive, but there are a range of affordable options, starting with more resilient circuit breakers.


  4. Internet, LANs and WANs, and IT Networks

    1. 1. Vulnerability: IT and communication networks such as LANs and WANs play a critical role in our everyday lives. Online communications are critical in emergency services and support voice and data communication via the Internet. Incidents involving malfunctions and damage to telephone and telegraph systems have been documented in literature including: telegraph service interruptions in Great Britain (1847), the “Carrington Event” that caused the complete shut-down of the US telegraph system (1859), telegraph lines in Boston and London that operated without batteries due to surging GICs (1881), negative effects to transatlantic communication cables, and fires in telegraph offices in Sweden (1958). These vulnerabilities add up in terms of potential loss of power, loss of network synchronization (i.e. a likely result of the loss of GPS), SCADA-related outages, or GIC-related damage to key electronic equipment and transformers. Today’s communication systems are complex systems comprised of electronic devices and a host of digital processors. Our cyber networks are connected through satellite/radio communication networks and terrestrial fiber-optic and deep-sea cables. Unlike old telegraph systems, modern IT and communications systems and networks are far more vulnerable to disruptions from solar events because so many diverse components are needed to make them work. In short, the points of vulnerability are exponentially increasing. Many unexplained interruptions in communications can most likely be attributed to solar and geomagnetic events. The precise point of failures, the nature of interruptions, and protective measures such as heavier-duty circuit breakers, more radiation hardening of power and satellites, etc., represent critical areas of research that need additional support (Riswadkar & Dobbins, 2010).

    2. 2. Defensive Strategies: Various aspects of communication and network activities including reliability and interconnectivity are regulated by different government agencies. There are fortunately some preventive measures in place to protect communication systems from solar events. For example, an industry group known as the CSRIC (Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council) has taken the initiative of sharing industry-wide best practices among owners and IT practitioners. This includes wireless and satellite capabilities providing alternate means that might help prevent the telecommunication sector from experiencing a total system collapse. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has developed useful strategies, but this is only the beginning of an effective global resilience strategy. Part of the resiliency strategy will start with the recognition that our cyber networks are vulnerable in a myriad of ways. If we lose GPS satellites from a solar or man-made EMP or GIC, we will likely lose synchronization of the Internet. If we lose our communications satellite networks, we will likely experience major connectivity problems with over 100 countries. If our power grids go down, our networks follow suit.


Final Conclusions and Recommendations


We need to recognize the extent to which large cities and modern service economies are vulnerable to EMPs whether from the sun, a terrorist assault or other natural phenomena. Even more importantly, we need to begin taking pro-active actions against this potential peril. Fortunately, a number of the indicated actions set forth in this article represent logical steps to take as precautions against other natural disasters or terrorist attacks as well. The proposed legislation H.R. 3410 is a logical place to start, but actual protective steps as set forth here need to follow as soon as possible. Eventually, we may need to develop cooperative agreements whereby all space agencies work together in a unified manner to respond to space threats. Such global defensive actions might use models currently employed for peacekeeping operations to respond to identified threats from asteroids, comets or extreme solar weather events.




References

Bell, A. (Producer). (2013, September 16). Dark matter [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXO9789Ao4E&feature=player_embedded

Eroshenko, E. A., Belov, A. V., Boteler , D., Gaidash, S. P., Lobkov, S. L., Pirjola, R., & Trichtchenko, L. (2010). Effects of strong geomagnetic storms on northern railways in Russia. Advances in Space Research, 46(9), 1102-1110. doi:10.1016/j.asr.2010.05.017

H.R. 3410--113th Congress: CIPA. (2013). In www.GovTrack.us. Retrieved from https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/3410

Koerner, B. I. (2009, March 29). Power to the people: 7 ways to fix the grid, now. Wired, (17.04). Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/17-04/gp_intro?currentPage=all

, T. (2013, February 13). The UN braces for stormy space weather. Retrieved from http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/13feb_copuos/

Riswadkar, A. V., & Dobbins, B. (2010). Solar storms: Protecting your operations against the Sun's 'Dark Side'. Retrieved from Zurich Services Corporation website: http://www.zurichna.com/internet/zna/SiteCollectionDocuments/en/media/SolarStorms.pdf

Robinson, B. (2014, January 4). Understanding EMP: What preppers should know. Retrieved from http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2014/01/04/understanding-emp-preppers-know/

Royal Academy of Engineering. (2011, March 1). Global satellite navigation systems: Reliance and vulnerabilities. Retrieved from http://www.raeng.org.uk/publications/reports/global-navigation-space-systems

Singh, I. and Pelton, J. N., (2013). The safe city: Living free in a dangerous world. Washington, D.C.: The Emerald Planet.

The Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack - Critical National Infrastructures: Hearing before the Committee On Armed Services (H.A.S.C. No. 108–37), H.R., 108th Cong., 2nd Session (2004) (testimony of Lowell Wood). Retrieved from http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/security/has204000.000/has204000_0f.htm

The (US) Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack (2008). Report of the (US) Commission to assess the threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack: Critical national infrastructures. Retrieved fromhttp://www.empcommission.org/docs/A2473-EMP_Commission-7MB.pdf

University of South Australia (2014). Our turbulent sun: Emerging tools for disaster management in the global south: Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Program 2014 White Paper. Retrieved from Illkirch-Graffenstaden [France]: International Space University website: http://isulibrary.isunet.edu/opac/index.php?lvl=notice_display&id=8995

Wik, M., Pirjola, R., Lundstedt, H., Viljanen, A., Wintoft, P., & Pulkkinen, A. (2009). Space weather events in July 1982 and October 2003 and the effects of geomagnetically-induced currents on Swedish technical systems. Annales Geophysicae, 27(4), 1775-1787. doi:10.5194/angeo-27-1775-2009

World Economic Forum (2014). Industry agenda: Bringing space down to earth - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014. Retrieved from http://www3.weforum.org/docs/AM14/WEF_AM14_GAC_BringingSpaceEarth_BookPreview.pdf

Zolfagharifard, E. (2014, January 27). Forget global warming, worry about the Earth's magnetosphere. Retrieved March 12, 2014, fromhttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2545465/Forget-global-warming-worry-MAGNETOSPHERE-Earths-magnetic-field-collapsing-affect-climate-wipe-power-grids.html



About the Authors



Joseph N. Pelton, PhD, is a member of the International Executive Board of the International Association for the Advancement of the Space Safety (IAASS). He is past President of the International Space Safety Foundation. Joseph is former Dean of the International Space University, and Director Emeritus of the Space and Advanced Communications Research Institute (SACRI) at George Washington University. Dr. Pelton has authored35 books and 300+ articles, held executive posts at Intelsat and Comsat, and founded the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation. He was also the founding President of the Society of Satellite Professionals (SSPI) and is a member of its Hall of Fame.



Indu B. Singh, PhD, is VP at Los Alamos Technical Associates (LATA) and heads LATA’s Washington DC Operations. He also is Executive Director of the LATA Global Institute for Security & Training (GIST). Dr. Singh served as Director for Systems Engineering and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) for Deloitte USA. Previously, he was a Managing Partner at Bearing Point, a publicly-traded company, prior to its acquisition by Deloitte Consulting. Dr. Singh has authored books on communications, IT systems and security, and is a former faculty member of Rutgers University. Dr. Singh is a pioneer in designing Smart Cities and Safe Cities around the world.



Elena Sitnikova, PhD, BE (Hon), CSSLP is an academic and researcher within the Australian Centre for Cyber Security (ACCS) at the University of NSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), Australia. Her main research interests are in critical infrastructure protection and cyber security, quality assurance and enterprise process capability improvement. Elena currently leads the Critical Infrastructure area, carrying out research projects in cyber security in SCADA and process control systems with industry, State and Federal Government partners in Australia. She works internationally researching cyber and natural threats including Extreme Solar Events and EMPs on SCADA systems.


This article was originally published in Inside Homeland Security February, 2015.