View Full Version : Do HERF guns really work?
12-15-2004, 12:57 PM
I've been seeing an lot of jibber-jabber about High Energy Radio Frequency guns. I even saw a couple articles on the possibility of a terrorist using a HERF gun to down an airplane. A long time ago I used to work for Scientific Atlanta in their earth station division. We had a ten meter dish out back and it's output was thousands of watts. It was dangerous to be around when it was on. They came and got us when we were out back before they turned it on. The RF amps that drove that thing had signs on the side that said Caution Lethal Voltage. Powerful as that thing was it wasn't a threat to aircraft. I just don't see how a shoulder held or vehicle mounted device is a threat.
12-15-2004, 01:00 PM
Can you provide a link to some of the jibber-jabber?
12-15-2004, 01:09 PM
I'll go dig them up.
12-15-2004, 02:03 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Chopstick:</font><hr> I've been seeing an lot of jibber-jabber about High Energy Radio Frequency guns. I even saw a couple articles on the possibility of a terrorist using a HERF gun to down an airplane. A long time ago I used to work for Scientific Atlanta in their earth station division. We had a ten meter dish out back and it's output was thousands of watts. It was dangerous to be around when it was on. They came and got us when we were out back before they turned it on. The RF amps that drove that thing had signs on the side that said Caution Lethal Voltage. Powerful as that thing was it wasn't a threat to aircraft. I just don't see how a shoulder held or vehicle mounted device is a threat. <hr /></blockquote>
<font color="blue">I knew a guy who carried one on his shoulder on Holmes Road in the 60's that, when at full volume and precisely tuned to WDIA, could melt pantyhose at 25 feet! I'm sure the technlogy is much better now. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif
hates pantyhose, except at bank robberies... </font color>
12-15-2004, 02:14 PM
/ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif ROFLMAO
12-16-2004, 08:38 AM
<font color="blue">Apparently they do work and have been demonstrated. </font color>
Threat of 'infowar' brings CIA warnings
By ELLEN MESSMER
Network World, 09/13/99
ARLINGTON, VA. - Some might call it paranoia, but the U.S. government is growing increasingly worried that foreign infiltrators are building secret trap doors into government and corporate networks with the help of foreign-born programmers doing Y2K-related work.
A CIA representative last week named Israel and India as the countries most likely to be doing this because they each handle a large amount of Year 2000 software repair not done by U.S.-born workers. According to the CIA, the two countries each have plans to conduct information warfare and planting trapdoors wherever they can would be a part of that.
Information warfare is a nation's concerted use of network hacking, denial-of-service attacks or computer viruses to gain access to or disrupt computer networks, now the heart of modern society in terms of banking, telecommunications and commerce.
HERF guns work
Though still secretive about the practice, nations are also building futuristic radio-pulse devices - popularly called High Energy Radio Frequency (HERF) guns - that can disrupt or destroy electronics in networks, cars, airplanes and other equipment by sending an energy beam at them.
A homemade version of a HERF gun successfully disrupted a PC and a digital camera during a demonstration last week at a session of the Infowar conference. This conference typically draws a large crowd of government spooks and high-tech strategists from around the world.
Y2K work is giving foreign programmers "unprecedented access to computer systems," Terrill Maynard, the CIA's chief of analysis and warning, said at the Infowar conference. He works at the National Information Protection Center, which is the government organization housed at the FBI that keeps a watch on threats to the U.S. cyberinfrastructure.
While Maynard calls Israel and India the key suspects for planting software backdoors in American systems, Russia is also viewed as a threat because it has defensive and offensive information warfare programs underway. Cuba and Bulgaria are working on computer-virus weapons, he says. But Maynard claims Israel has already hacked its way into U.S. computer systems to steal information about the Patriot missile.
With most Y2K work completed, "action options are few at this date," Maynard says. He recommends that IT departments closely examine the Y2K code that went in their systems and also run extensive checks on network security.
In the 21st century, the threat of nuclear war is being displaced by that of information weapons, said another conference speaker, Igor Nemerov, general counsel of the Russian Embassy. "We can't allow the emergence of another area of confrontation," Nemerov said, adding that Russia is calling for "cyberdisarmament."
The first step in the cyberdisarmament process is to get the nations of the world to discuss the issue openly, Nemerov said. Russia recently requested that the United Nations ask member countries to recognize the threat and state their views on it.
The U.S. Department of Defense has complained in meetings with Congressional subcommittees that it has seen severe network-based attacks coming from Russia. Congress has become convinced there's a big problem - and not just with Russia. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) made an appearance at the Infowar conference last week to say he thinks information warfare is a bigger threat than biological or nuclear weapons.
When asked by Network World if Russia carries out network-based attacks on U.S. computer systems, Nemerov conceded that sometimes things do happen, but "it's unauthorized."
Robert Garique, chief technical officer for the Canadian province of Manitoba, said he favors cyberdisarmament talk. Garique noted that new hacking tools, such as one called nmap, make it very hard to be sure where a network-based attack is originating because the tool makes it easy for the attacker to spoof his identity.
Easy to make
But more than traditional hacker techniques constitute infowar. A new genre of high-energy radio-pulse weapons that disable electrical flows are under development in government labs around the world. "People are spending a lot of money on cyberweapons," Garique said.
But how easy is it for terrorists or other criminals to build their own homemade HERF guns? That has been a topic of much debate, but last week a California-based engineer, David Schriner, demonstrated it's not very hard.
Schriner, president of Schriner Engineering and a former engineer at the Naval Air Warfare Center, hooked up a 4-foot parabolic antenna powered by ignition coils and parts from a cattle stun gun during one Infowar session. People with pacemakers were asked to exit the room.
With not much more than $400 in parts, he directed a 300-MHz pulse at a computer running a program. Blasted in this manner from 10 feet away, the computer went haywire and a digital camera twice that distance away was affected.
"It's high-school science, basically," says Schriner, who believes that as this kind of threat becomes better understood through research, the computer industry is going to have to sit up and take note. "It's going to cost an extra nickel or dime to put a shield in a computer where it's needed," he says.
Here are a couple more:
12-16-2004, 05:41 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Chopstick:</font><hr> I've been seeing an lot of jibber-jabber about High Energy Radio Frequency guns. I even saw a couple articles on the possibility of a terrorist using a HERF gun to down an airplane.<hr /></blockquote>
I'd say that was fanciful thinking. Certainly no military aircraft would be succeptable, because everything is heavily shielded. Civilian jetliners are also shielded, but not to the same extent. But they get struck by lightning all the time with no problems (try that with your computer).
The power requirements for such a system would probably need to be in the megawatts to be effective even at a couple of miles, not exactly portable. If it was that easy, there would be no such thing as surface to air missiles.
A much more realistic threat would be a terrorist at an airport perimeter with a MANPAD like a Stinger or SA-18. El-Al equips their commercial fleet with automatic chaff and flare dispensers against such a threat, but the US fleet is too large for that to be practical.
The US has a compact laser pod that disables the IR seeker on these types of missiles. Raytheon developed the system. Anyway, it's being incorporated into the US fleet on an assessed threat basis, starting with International flights and working down to domestic flights in high risk areas. You won't hear about it on the news, because we don't want to say which planes are equipped and which are not.
The system detects the launch and targets the missile automatically with no human intervention. It's basically a modification of a laser targeting and designator pod that we use on military aircraft. You won't even notice it unless you know what to look for, it will be a little bump on the underside of the fuselage on the tail section of the AC.
12-17-2004, 07:23 AM
I really didn't see how they could be a threat to aircraft based on the power required. I was interested to see what you and Spidey thought about it.
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