Will IEMI Become a Bigger Threat Than Computer Hacking?

by Mark Lovett on February 6, 2015

The newswires have been buzzing a lot these days with reports of security breaches – we even mentioned incidents at Target, Sony & Home Depot in a recent blog post on password protection – caused by hackers around the globe seeking to obtain confidential corporate and financial information.  As damaging as those intrusions can be, would bringing down an entire network pose an even greater threat?

Security professionals are now discussing whether Intentional Electromagnetic Interference (IEMI) could in fact be a more potent issue to deal with than hacking.  Targets as diverse as computer networks, industrial facilities, communications networks and devices, transportation and traffic control systems, as well as food and water supply infrastructure are at risk from malicious attacks.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) defines IEMI as the “intentional malicious generation of electromagnetic energy introducing noise or signals into electric and electronic systems thus disrupting, confusing, or damaging these systems for terrorist or criminal purposes.”

Commercial IEMI in Suitcase

The basic issue is one of voltage as ever-expanding computer networks – growing even faster due to the Internet of Things phenomenon – rely on devices which operate at low internal voltages.  These devices usually have minimal protection from high voltage electromagnetic pulses which can reach thousands of volts per meter.  A small electromagnetic weapon can be housed in a suitcase, while a van can obviously contain a much larger version, and is inherently mobile.

A common mistake is to think that systems which reside inside of a building are safe from such weapons, but if your cell phone can work inside a room, such as a data center, an electromagnetic pulse generated nearby can also reach critical systems, causing physical damage or disrupting communications.

Protecting a Building From IEMI - MCKIBILLO

Protecting a Building from IEMI, Illustration by MCKIBILLO

The topic of Electronic Warfare has been around a long time, but it’s military focus has over time broadened to include both commercial and personal electronic infrastructure.  And while traditional computer hacking may continue to steal headlines for some time to come, the day may not be that far off when news reports reference network disruptions that affect critical aspects of our communication systems.

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This year’s RTECC (Real-Time and Embedded Computing Conference) show in Santa Clara drew over 1,000 attendees, featured a pair of insightful keynote talks, and became the launchpad for Trenton Systems new HDEC (High Density Embedded Computing) product line.

Real-Time and Embedded Computing ConferfenceIf you don’t recall seeing mention of any HDEC products on the Trenton Systems website, that’s because we’re still putting the finishing touches on what will prove to be a revolutionary new board and system level computing architecture.

For those in attendance, you hopefully had a chance to catch John De Leo’s technical session on the HDEC’s many features, advantages and benefits.  Here’s an overview of what he covered:

How can an embedded computing system take full advantage of the expanded PCIe Gen3, device I/O and processing capabilities of the Grantley-EP platform? The Intel® Xeon® E5-2600 v3 processor family will present new opportunities for high-density computing. With up to 24 cores and 80 native PCIe 3.0 lanes in a dual-socket embedded configuration, this platform offers extraordinary performance & I/O capability.

The problem is that not all standard form factors take full advantage of the processor’s I/O, potentially leaving the processor starved for data. To overcome this barrier, designers need new form factors that can match the processor’s architectural advancements. Applications with potential I/O bottlenecks will include military computing, industrial automation, medical diagnostics, imaging, and energy production and exploration. Big data applications are becoming more common in mission-critical applications, and the diversity of these applications calls for platforms that are flexible enough to handle a wide range of mission requirements.  Addressing these critical factors led to the development of the HDEC platform.

Trenton Systems Booth at RTECC Santa Clara 2015

Setting Up the Trenton Systems Booth at RTECC Santa Clara 2015

We will be releasing detailed HDEC specifications in the near future, but for now the chart below provides a high level overview of what you can expect from the HDEC product family.  In short, higher performance, increased data bandwidth, and the ability to take advantage of 80 lanes of native PCI Express 3.0, housed within a standard 19″ rackmount form factor (as well as custom enclosures) and supporting existing PCIe I/O cards.  Call a Trenton account manager today and ask for further details on HDEC @ (770) 287-3100.

High Density Embedded Computing System Architecture

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Will Password Protection Someday Become Obsolete?

by Mark Lovett January 12, 2015

In the early days of the internet we only needed one password – the one that we used to log on to our dial-up internet service provider.  But in the last 20 years (Netscape Navigator, still in beta, became available on October 13, 1994) the need for passwords has exploded due to online commerce (purchases and […]

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It Was Another Amazing Year For Trenton Systems

by Mark Lovett December 31, 2014

Trenton Systems has always prided itself on being an engineering company.  Not satisfied with integrating third party products, we still design and manufacture a full line of single board computers and PCI Express backplanes that end up in our customer-driven computing solutions. In 2014 we introduced a variety of new board-level products and fully integrated systems, […]

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THD8141 Single Board Computer Touts Haswell Processor

by Mark Lovett December 19, 2014

The Trenton Systems THD8141 single board computer offers a choice of multi-core Intel Xeon E3-1220 v3 or an Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processors (formally known as Haswell) and includes support for industry standard PCI Express 3.0 plug-in cards. The THD8141 single board computer utilizes PCIe 3.0 link retimers to ensure maximum single integrity between the processors’ […]

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Long Life Motherboard Powers TRS3500 Rackmount Computer

by Mark Lovett December 8, 2014

Utilizing the latest Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors, formally known as Haswell-EP, Trenton Systems TRS3500 3U rackmount computer features a long-life, dual-processor motherboard that ensures stable system configurations at an extremely competitive price. The EATX motherboard in the base-system configuration is populated with two Intel® Xeon® E5-2620 v3 processors that come with a 5 to […]

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