An article in ZDNet dated 31 July 2018, carries this attention-grabbing title, “Data archiving for survivalists: Ready for that solar flare?” Survivalists, or preppers, as they are also known because they make extensive preparations to survive unexpected catastrophes, are often maligned for their obsession with being ready to survive whatever man or nature throws at the world.
I must admit that I have taken some steps and have devised a plan in the event of a zombie apocalypse or some other catastrophic event. The newsletters I get from these practitioners make for interesting, and often entertaining, reading. They also offer some very useful tips for survival in the wilderness if you get lost hiking.
However, prepping important data to survive an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) created by a nuclear weapon exploding or from a solar flare has not crossed my mind, until now. Here at CRIP.TO, we like to inform our customers of the potential dangers of data theft and design our encryption solutions to minimize that possibility. So, providing advice on protecting data against EMPs and solar flares seems the next step.
However improbable either event may be, storing essential data like financial information, insurance policy details, important documents like wills, birth/marriage certificates, and deeds on media impervious to the magnetic pulses makes sense. The amount of data you have will also drive your decision.
But, what is the best media for the job? You will want anything that cannot be impacted by magnetic surges, so that leaves out all magnetic media, HDDs, SSDs, and USB devices. The first option, and perhaps the easiest for everyone, is optical disks, CD, DVD, or Blu-ray. Nearly every PC on the planet will have an optical drive capable of storing your data. If you have a lot, use Blu-ray as it currently has the greatest storage capacity with a shelf life of 50-100 years. If you have a suitable drive, M-discs offer 1000-year life.
You can opt for synthetic DNA storage as described in an earlier post or invest in nano-metallic/ceramic chips which are capable of holding one terabyte of data on a chip the size of a fingernail. There is also an old-school method, microfilm! Microfilm readers are becoming scarce but a lot of data in libraries resides on film, and you can read microfilm with a good magnifying glass if all else fails. Try doing that with any optical storage media. Film does have its drawbacks in being sensitive to temperature and humidity, so it requires some special storage to remain viable. Fortunately, modern microfilm sports a life-span of 500 years!
The ZDNet article says some preppers suggest wrapping drives in several layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil to ward off the EMF effects. As an alternative, I recommend saving the aluminum foil for hats and building (or buying) a Faraday cage for maximum protection. Check out an article from PC Magazine for all the details.
While you ponder how best to prep your data for secure storage during an EMP or solar flare, consider CRIP.TO for the best means of securing your communications today. With a custom recipe of encryption algorithms, innovative hardware, secure smartphone app, and supporting stack of services, we give you the freedom to communicate fearlessly. You deserve nothing less.
One good thing about either event, if there can be a silver lining, is that the bad actors’ hoard of ill-gotten personal data will be toast. Take that, bad guys!