I am playing with idea of Earth being attacked by aliens. Such attack is aimed on our computers and reason of attack is to show to the Federation of planets that we are still weak to be contacted.
The question: How would we handle after such attack?
- The attack is synchronised, covering all the Earth in one shot
- Such shot sets all data stored in RAMs to all logical "1"
- Also, hard drives are given instruction to write to all sectors logical "1"
- Both instructions are on hardware level, so no check of write rights given. Assume the computer under attack will fulfil the request.
- Assuming the aliens know our technology, the write process on HDD starts with OS sectors and then continues to "data" sectors. This applies also to SSD
- Everything else than RAM and HDD/SSDs (namely tapes, DVDs and other "offline" backup systems) remains unharmed
- To be absolutely clear, the attack also targets on routers and modems
While the scope of attack is bit "magic", it obeys the laws of physics:
- The attack is electromagnetic pulse based
- So if a computer is hidden behind something which should prevent electromagnetic pulse, such computer remains fully functional
- Also, the pulse obeys square inverse law, so the more mass is between orbit and the computer, the less effective the attack is.
- My working meta is 10 metres of (any) mass between computer and orbit to render attack fully uneffective.
- And, the attack is only one-off. No repeat of such attack.
- Also, I am aware of one huge flaw: Computer has to be turned on in moment of attack. The attack has no effect on turned off computers. However, as long as the computer is at least in "sleep" mode, the attack has effect.
I know I would not destroy all the computers, but I also know that I would be able to turn off more than 90% of all Earth computers.
Addendum: Plot explanation:
Imagine there is alien organisation called "Federation of Planets." They have FTL drives and actively seek other intelligent species to join them. In order to join, you have to pass a mark of setting foot on other planet than your own.
There are "anti immigrant activists" who think, that the acceptance criteria should be raised to "visit other star system than own". These activist know, that "The Auditors" are going to visit Earth soon and check how advanced the Earth is.
And they know that if we are unable to communicate, the Earth is not going to be accepted and next visit is going to happen in 50 years. So while the attack is mainly aimed on our communication, they decided to go over the top and attack us on whole scale.