Tag: new technologies

Can solar power be used to increase our cyber security?

We have a pretty big problem with our technology power consumption. On average, a server uses between 400 Wh and 900 Wh. By official sources, different vendors sold almost 100 million units for the period between 2010 and 2020. And ten years is the average lifecycle for a server. So, at the moment, we can calculate that to have running just the server part of the Internet, we must generate 50 GWh. And most of this power is coming from traditional power sources, which can be a target of a cyber attack, as we saw from the Colonial Pipe case.

According to another official source, the Internet has around 5 billion daily active users. On average, every user will have at least one personal computer and a smartphone. For every four people, we have one network router. For every twenty users, we will have a network switch provided by their service provider. 

An average consumption per hour for a personal computer is around 200 Wh, for a smartphone is 1 Wh, for network switch and routers are 10 Wh. Now, this makes an additional 1000 GWh + 5 GWh + 100 GWh. Servers, network equipment, and smartphones work 24 hours, and users usually browse around for 6 hours on average, making a total of 9720 GWd or 405 GWh.

So the average consumption of the Internet is around 405 GWh. Just for comparison – one nuclear power plant can produce 1 GWh. So we need the equivalent of 405 nuclear power plants to keep everyone online.

On the diagram, you can see a standard solar-powered security system. The solar panel is sending data to the charge controller, which decides whether to charge the battery or not. The inverter chooses whether to use solar power or the standard grid and finally, the security system is powered.

There are two leading solar solutions for commercial use at the moment. The first option is the standard solar panel. The average production of such solar panels is 320 Wh. To cover the needs of the Internet using only solar panels, we shall need 1.3 billion of these solar panels placed around the World. The second option is solar power towers. The main idea of solar power towers is to establish many digitally controlled mirrors, reflecting its rays into a tower full of salt depending on the Sun location. When the salt is molted, it is combined with water, evaporating to a turbine. The most significant such installation is Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, with a production capacity of 392 MWh. To cover the needs of the Internet, we shall need around 1,000 such structures. 

However, to build a solar-based solution, we must consider the following problem: there are only around 12 hours of daylight in most locations. There are two mitigations of this problem – the first is to double the number of installations and make sure they cover the 24 hours interval for everyone by strategical placement. The second is to double the number of structures and install batteries to preserve the generated energy for night use. 

Our first mitigation creates an interesting geopolitical situation with a large number of dependencies. For the second mitigation, let’s calculate how many batteries we need to preserve the energy for night use. 405 GWh multiplied by 12 hours make around 5000 GWn. A standard Tesla Powerwall unit can store 13.5 kWh. We shall need approximately 370 million units to preserve the energy during the night.

In conclusion, solar power can be an exciting alternative to traditional power sources. In terms of cybersecurity, it could make your network and even alarm system not so dependent on power coming from the grid. The standard way of having a backup is to have a petrol-based generator unit. However, you must fill a generator with petrol, which means that the system is not 100% independent. It is essential to know that the solar power alternative can give an extended backup period, but it will come with a higher price, more complex setup, more expensive support, etc. However, it can offer quite a good way of making your security more robust.


Wh – Watts per hour

kWh – Kilowatts per hour = 1000 Wh

mWh – Megawatts per hour = 1000000 Wh

GWh – Gigawattas per hour = 1000000000 Wh

GWd – Gigawattas per day

GWn – Gigawattas per night

Security dangers of DNA based storages

Data storage was never such a big issue in the past. However, nowadays, every day, we produce a massive amount of data. The newest form of storing data is DNA sequencing. The current leader in long-term storage is magnetic tape. Unfortunately, magnetic tapes can store data only for thirty years. One device has the capacity of only a terabyte of data. In comparison, DNA Fountain-based storage could store data at a density of 215 petabytes per gram of DNA.

But to store a massive amount of data in such a tiny medium has its unique list of dangers. Let us look at those potential risks one by one.

  • Risk for Computers: At the moment, there is no threat to your computer by storing data into a DNA sequence. However, similar to every data medium, hackers can use DNA storage to keep and spread malware.
  • Intentional insertion of malware:  Unfortunately, one of the main disadvantages of using DNA-based storage is that the physical world can modify your DNA. A skillful attacker can create an entirely different set of threats such as biological viruses or bacterias, transmitting and injecting malware programs into your DNA storage.
  • No way to erase the storage: Once written, DNA is usually quite tricky to modify. We should treat the DNA-based storages such as highly capable compact discs with slow rewriting capabilities. The most trustful way to erase such storage is to eradicate it.
  • Easier to physically steal: How do you assure the physical security of under one gram of data? Do we store it in a safe? Sure, but hackers can make a hole in your safe and steal your data. The size of DNA-based storage devices introduces an entirely different set of challenges for your physical security.
A sample diagram of how DNA-based storage works. To record your data into DNA, you can create an entirely new footprint with your data encoded as Nucleo code. After that, you have to synthesis it into a DNA sequence.

Benefits of using DNA based storages:

Despite the threats, we could still prefer DNA-based storage in the future because it can store data for thousands of years, unlike hard drives. The information stored in DNA will not go extinct until human beings exist. These characteristics make DNA-based storage a perfect replacement for the currently used cold backup systems such as magnetic tapes.

How to control the security threats associated with DNA-based storages?

Fortunately, at this current moment, there is no significant adoption of DNA-based storage devices. The current leader is magnetic tape and will stay the same for foresee future. At the same time, the ordinary person does no use magnetic tape to store data. Usually, we use a collection of hard drives with multiple copies of our data. With this in mind, we can deduce that DNA-based storage will find its use mainly in data centers and big corporations’ data storage departments. Still, it is essential to understand that we must implement an entirely different set of techniques when we speak about DNA. With our current speed of technological development, it is quite possible to have DNA-based storage in our homes or bodies in the next decade or two.

Way Out of these Threats:

In conclusion, DNA-based storage is just another data medium. To secure the data stored there, we can use the same set of principles for storing data in hard drives. We could use strong encryption, excellent authentication, and a sound policy to store your data on a digital device or in paper documents.