In Identifying the Source of a Power Surge, failed components analysis expert witness Mamoon Alyah, P.E., answers the question “Is it possible to differentiate between lightning related surges and artificially generated electrical surges?”
..When the damage is localized and extensive such as blown components, lightning becomes the primary suspect. Lightning is likely the cause when signs of damage indicate a surge with high magnitude, but without enough duration to cause widespread damage. In most cases, a visual inspection can provide significant information about the extent of damage.
In addition to the nature and extent of damage, the type and design of the damaged component can tell a great deal regarding the source of a power surge. Once the exact damaged component (or part) inside a piece of equipment is identified, one can use the information to identify the source of a surge. This is because lightning surges can be conducted (or induced) through any part that connects a piece of equipment to the outside world, including communication ports and power supplies, while an artificially generated power surge can only be conducted through the power supply.