Radio Frequency Interference and its Use as a Weapon

Contributed by Helen Gantt

Electromagnetic radio frequency emitters are common and are used legitimately in everyday applications such as wireless communications and Global Positioning Systems. It is also common that the electromagnetic energy that RF emitters produce will affect other electronic devices, called electromagnetic interference (EMI). An example is using a walkie talkie near a television. The signal is picked up by the television's antenna and distorts the picture. If RF emitters are used to purposely disrupt electronics, they then become a weapon. They are more powerful and therefore cause more damage than ordinary RF emitters. In this paper, I will discuss this type of weapon further, how it might be used, and why an attacker would consider this technology as a weapon. This discussion will be limited to the security threats of everyday private sector systems, and will not delve into the realm of its use for the purpose of war.

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