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NSA Got Attacked . . . by a Power Surge


NSA Got Attacked . . . by a Power Surge

October 14, 2013

  By Miguel Leiva-Gomez, TMCnet Contributor

A long time ago, businesses were concerned about power spikes breaking their espresso machines. In the 1950s, “no break power supplies,” which later came to be known as uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), were invented. These little devices ensured that power surges would not penetrate the electrical infrastructure of anything connected to them. The modern UPS as we know it, which also has an internal battery that powers devices during an electrical blackout, was invented as early as the 1990s.

It so happens that the National Security Agency (News - Alert) (NSA), the United States' biggest authority on security, had not protected its IT infrastructure sufficiently to protect against the 10 different power surges that have demolished its data center in Bluffdale, Utah, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. The data center cost taxpayers $1.4 billion to build, and the damages equate to about $1 million, as each surge destroyed around $100,000 in equipment.

The NSA is investigating the matter, which has delayed the data center's opening date by a year. The Bluffdale data center measures more than one million square feet in area, and it will cost around $1 million per year to power up. The data center was supposed to be opened and operational in October of last year, but delays have continued. And now, this power surge has pushed back that opening date even further.

At this time, it is not known how much data the facility will be able to store, as that information is classified. According to some experts, the facility may be able to store anywhere in the order of a few exabytes to a few zettabytes. An exabyte is one billion gigabytes, and a zettabyte is one thousand exabytes (a trillion gigabytes). To put that number into perspective, the entire cumulative data store of the Internet measures to about one zettabyte at this time. Still, no matter how much it can store, it’s really a moot point if the center isn’t operational.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson
Power Protection Homepage ››

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