Homeland Security

Galaxy 8 or iPhone 8: Which Is Better Prepared for a North Korean EMP Attack?

Over the next two weeks Americans will have a front-row seat to the showcasing of new smartphones from Samsung and Apple — and to the evolving threats of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks from N. Korea. Although the Galaxy 8 and the iPhone 8 are packed with new-age features, to what degree would they be toast when it comes to a possible EMP attack? Is your microwave the best way to protect your smartphone from obliteration?


September — it’s the time we think about hurricanes… Henry, Katrina, Irma. It’s also the time we think about smartphone wars between Apple and Samsung. But sadly, this September is also the time when North Korea has been testing missiles and bombs — and talking about EMPs.

What is an EMP and how could it toast your newest smartphone?

An EMP involves the detonation of a nuclear device at high altitudes above a target city, region, or country. The resulting “electromagnetic pulse” is intended not to cause kinetic or physical damage but rather to impact or destroy the operation of electronic devices. With this scenario, sadly, both the iPhone 8 and the Galaxy Note 8, along with other models of smartphones and tablets, could have their electronics destroyed.

Is there a solution?

Technically the solution is to use a Faraday cage, aluminum foil, or even, as some suggest, putting your devices into your microwave.

But is it even worth trying to save your smartphone? In the end, probably not. North Korea and EMPs are not really targeting cell phones. The broader targets are our electric grid and cell towers — in other words, our complete electronic infrastructure. The goal is not really to cause you some personal inconvenience with your beloved smartphone. If an EMP attack were to happen there would be no working cell service, no Wi-Fi, and, in fact, the entire Internet backbone would likely be down. Not to mention the fact that there wouldn’t be any electricity to even power a phone. The goal is literally to destroy the U.S. economy, transportation, water supply, etc., and to put the U.S. back into the Dark Ages.




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