[Fwd: The PC Death Ray]

Andre' Kesteloot akestelo@bellatlantic.net
Fri, 24 Sep 1999 10:37:24 -0400

>                      BEWARE THE PC DEATH RAY
> WASHINGTON -- With $500 and a trip to the hardware store,
> saboteurs can build a device capable of remotely disrupting
> computers, automobiles, medical equipment and nearly anything
> else dependent on electronics, according to a California engineer
> who demonstrated a home-brew computer death-ray at the InfowarCon
> '99 conference here Wednesday.
>      Former Navy engineer David Schriner showed off an unwieldy
> device constructed from a parabolic reflector, a horn antenna and
> two automotive ignition coils, which he aimed at two personal
> computers about 20 feet away.
>      When an assistant activated the Rube Goldberg contraption by
> connecting it to a car battery, the conference room filled with a
> loud buzzing from the PA system and a PowerPoint presentation on
> the projection screen flickered and scattered.  One of the
> computers instantly dropped out of its screen saver.
>      When the device was switched off, both PCs were frozen, and
> wouldn't respond to keyboard input.
>      The effects of High Energy Radio Frequency (HERF) emissions
> on electronics are well known among engineers, and info-warriors
> have expressed concern that adversarial nations may someday
> include computer-killing devices in their arsenals.
>      Military aircraft are built with hardened electronics
> designed to survive the electromagnetic pulse created by a
> nuclear detonation.  Schriner theorized that a single nuclear
> weapon designed specifically for the purpose, "would probably
> take out all of the electronics on the East Coast."
>      But Schriner, who has devoted his research to small-scale
> electronic warfare, said the demonstration was intended as a
> "wake up call" to show that even low-budget saboteurs can create
> viable electronic weapons.
>      "We bought the car battery at Wal-Mart yesterday," said
> Schriner.  "It's all stuff you can buy at the hardware store."
>      The HERF gun is not particularly high-tech, either. The
> device uses technology dating back to (inventor Nikola) Tesla,
> essentially pushing a 20 megawatt burst of undisciplined radio
> noise through an antenna.  The energy is enough to interfere with
> sensitive computer components nearby, creating unpredictable
> results ranging from minor anomalous behavior, to complete
> burnout.
>      Schriner said he's built larger HERF guns capable of
> crashing computers and disabling automobiles at a range of 100
> feet, with a cost as low as $300.
>      Jonathan Lemkin, a screenwriter working on an infowar script
> for Paramount, was particularly impressed with the dramatic
> display and menacing hardware.  "That's definitely going in the
> movie," he said.
>      The computers targeted in Wednesday's demonstration worked
> fine after rebooting, and Schriner said permanent damage is
> uncommon.  "But if that happens to be a computer in a tank, or in
> a piece of medical equipment, how long does it take to reboot?
> By that time you could be dead."
>      Conference organizer and infowar author Winn Schwartau said
> Wednesday's demonstration validates a threat he first tried to
> warn Congress about in 1991.
>      "They asked if I thought they should add HERF guns to the
> Brady Bill," Schwartau recalls.
>                                        -- Ziff Davis News Network
>                           *  *  *  *  *