UPDATE As expected, national security authorities warned that global cell tower attacks based on alleged conspiracy theories linking 5G to the coronavirus could increase as the pandemic spreads. The Department of Homeland Security cautioned in a report last week: “Violent extremists have drawn from misinformation campaigns online that claim wireless infrastructure is deleterious to human health and helps spread COVID-19, resulting in a global effort by like-minded individuals to share operational guidance and justification for conducting attacks against 5G infrastructure, some of which have already prompted arson and physical attacks against cell towers in several U.S. states,” states the DHS in the report obtained by ABC News.
ABC News reported a joint intelligence bulletin issued by the FBI, DHS and the National Counterterrorism Center was distributed to senior federal officials and law enforcement agencies around the country. “Current targeting observed appears to be focused primarily on locations associated with the [5G network] and the electric grid,” state authorities in the document.
The FCC and other federal agencies last week reiterated that 5G is in no way related to COVID-19, Inside Towers reported. “5G has nothing to do with the coronavirus,” stressed FCC Chairman Ajt Pai.
The DHS report said that since December 2019, “unidentified actors conducted at least five arson incidents targeting cell towers in Memphis that resulted in more than $100,000 in damages.” Additionally, 14 cell towers in western Tennessee, between February and April, “were purposely turned off by way of disabling their electrical breakers,” according to separate DHS field intelligence reporting, noted ABC. In April, arsonists set fire to a “major cell tower in Portland, OR, damaging electrical components at the base of the structure,” the report continued.
The DHS provided advice on ways to reduce the risk of attack. Those included installing sensors and barriers, cyberintrusion detection systems, closed-circuit television as well as monitoring drone activity near towers.