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Question 10/5

Question 10/5 – Security of telecommunication and information systems concerning the electromagnetic environment

(Continuation of Question 15/5)


ICT has become an essential part of the way that individuals organize and conduct their lives, that businesses attract and interact with customers; and that governments provide essential services. Smart grid deploying ICT is one of key technologies for efficient, reliable, economic and sustainable electricity services. ICT therefore has become one of fundamental importance to the function of the world's most developed economies.

The purpose of this Question is to develop guidelines to protect key telecommunications centres and ICT equipment from disruption due to electromagnetic effects. This work includes protection from lightning damage, from Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) issues and also the effects of High-Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and High Power Electromagnetic (HPEM) attack and Intentional Electromagnetic Interference (IEMI). The object was to produce a document set that presented the non-technical/non-expert reader with a guide to existing technical documentation: these being, for lightning and EMC, documents from the ITU's K-Series of Recommendations (Protection from Interference); for HPEM and HPEM, documents from the IEC TC77 (Electromagnetic Compatibility) SC77C (High Power Electromagnetic Transient Phenomena).

Smart grid should be considered as a new system which requires high level reliability since the effect of malfunction could be widespread and continued operation of the smart grid is essential for the life of humans and the economy.

Also, electromagnetic security could involve consideration of information leaks from telecommunication networks by unexpected radio emissions from the equipment. It’s called Electromagnetic emanation security (EMSEC).

The nature of the malicious threats and the corresponding mitigation techniques are similar to those that apply to natural or unintentional electromagnetic disturbances. Thus, the traditional activities of Study Group 5 related to protection against lightning and controlling Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) contribute to the security of the network against malicious man-made threats.

The following Recommendations, in force at the time of approval of this Question, fall under its responsibility:

  • K.78, K.81, K.84 and K.87.


Study items to be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • Technical requirement for preventing information leaks by unexpected radio emission from equipment (EMSEC) and protection of telecommunication centres from attacks using high power radio waves (HEMP, HPEM and IEMI);
  • Mitigation methods such as electromagnetic shielding;
  • Methodology for evaluating the protective measures.


Tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • One or more recommendations on:
    • Basic security requirements for preventing information leakage through electromagnetic emission (Evaluation method, limits etc.);
    • Basic immunity and resistibility requirements against electromagnetic attack including specific immunity test method and limits;
    • Security evaluation methodology for telecommunication installations with /without shielding rooms and cabinets;
    • Security guideline regarding electromagnetic threats;
    • Methodology for mitigation of security threats;
    • Revision of the existing Recommendation.

An up-to-date status of work under this Question is contained in the SG 5 work programme (use URL as shown in the table below).




  • K-series


  • 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 12/5

Study Groups:

  • ITU-T SG 17

Standardization bodies, forum and consortia: