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Preparing for the Worst in IT 172

Posted by Zonk
from the in-a-post-blah-blah-blah dept.
mplex writes "How vulnerable is the internet to terrorist attack? Is it robust enough to handle an outage on a massive scale? Should the commercial infrastructure that powers the internet be kept secret? These are the sorts of questions raised by Mark Gibbs in his latest column in Network World. 'There is an alternate route available for nearly all services through Las Vegas or Northern California serving all facilities-based carriers in Los Angeles -- all interconnected at numerous L.A. and L.A.-area fiber-optic terminals supporting both metro and long-distance cable.' Given that the internet thrives on open networks, it's hard to imagine keeping them a secret. At best, we must be prepared to deal with the worst."
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Preparing for the Worst in IT

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  • lol zonk (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 14, 2007 @01:49PM (#18733547)
    Link in article broken, nice job editors!
  • by koreth (409849) * on Saturday April 14, 2007 @01:50PM (#18733561)

    Why is terrorism "the worst" now? I'm much more afraid of a high-magnitude earthquake hitting the west coast of the US, or a major hurricane veering further north than usual on the east coast, than I am of some random bomb going off somewhere.

    Just in the last year we've seen how a single earthquake in Taiwan [slashdot.org] can bring connectivity between Asia and the rest of the world nearly to a halt. Natural disasters like that are a sure thing and it makes much more sense to me to worry about that than about the latest episode of "24" coming true.

    Which isn't to say that we should dismiss any possible threat entirely, of course -- but we should also prioritize our efforts. It's not possible to fully prepare for every possible problem.

    Ironically, TFA actually claims that we are pretty well prepared.

    • by Tatarize (682683)
      It isn't an absurd notion. If you look at the map of the backbone servers in the united states you'll notice that there is a major hub of one scantily protected building near LA, supplying the entire west coast with access... I've said too much.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @02:05PM (#18733701)
      Much more delicate than the Internet is the power grid it relies on.

      High-voltage transmission lines are frequently in the middle of nowhere, with no patrollers or police nearby, yet easily accessible from any SUV by just driving down the service road. A single stick of dynamite is probably sufficient to take down a single tower. The grid (as was shown by the outage on the east coast a couple years ago) is not very redundant, so only a few towers would need to be prepared in this manner. The bombs could be set off from a cellphone with little risk of an attacker being captured, and it would take weeks to repair.

      I agree with you that the priorities are off, but even considering only the Internet, priorities are off. The Internet can't function without the power grid, and the power grid is a lot more delicate than most people know.
      • by linguizic (806996) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @02:55PM (#18734137)
        Thank you my friend. I find what you say very useful. Allah smiles on you this day my friend!
      • by suv4x4 (956391) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:30PM (#18734513)
        Much more delicate than the Internet is the power grid it relies on.

        People in IT like to brag how robust and reliable Internet is in the event if a disaster, but I've seen far more interruption of my internet service (at any point on the route), that interruptions of my electricity.

        And that's without any terroristic activity.
        • by dodobh (65811)
          But your Internet service != The entire Internet. Eben when NYC went down due to the power issue, the Internet kept on running.
      • They did that in Ocean's Eleven (1960)
      • How do you figure? (Score:2, Informative)

        by briancnorton (586947)
        The power grid is fragile? On the US's three major grids (west, east, and texas) We've had something like two major outages (65 and 03) in the last 100 years not caused by natural disaster. The power grid SEEMS to be very reliable, fault tolerant, and capable of containing most major problems to a small area. Even the litany of small power outages that occur every day somewhere are repaired promptly.
        • by Blakey Rat (99501)
          There have been way more than two major outages. The Seattle area had a major outage just last year... Mercer Island was without power for almost two weeks. Wasn't there a big outage in St. Louis last year as well? California had some rather famous blackouts in 2000 or 2001. I bet there's at least one major outage every year.

          But in those cases none of the high-voltage transmission lines were affected. If you dynamited one of those towers, it would take a heck of a lot more than two weeks to restore it, and
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mikael (484)
        High-voltage transmission lines are frequently in the middle of nowhere, with no patrollers or police nearby, yet easily accessible from any SUV by just driving down the service road. A single stick of dynamite is probably sufficient to take down a single tower.

        A single lightning strike or solar storm is also capable of disabling an entire line, not forgetting tornados
        or heavy snow which can also bring the cables. And the same lightning strike can also take out telephone lines.
      • 'The grid (as was shown by the outage on the east coast a couple years ago) is not very redundant'

        Actually the grid used to more redundant until the utility companies stopped building standby generators and connected local systems to a central control station, to save on staff and to save money. They managed this by lobbying in Washington to get the regulations diluted.

        The actual blackout was caused by the MS Blaster worm that caused the SCADA units to freeze. These Windows based units are used to pr
    • by ScentCone (795499) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @02:06PM (#18733709)
      Just in the last year we've seen how a single earthquake in Taiwan can bring connectivity between Asia and the rest of the world nearly to a halt. Natural disasters like that are a sure thing and it makes much more sense to me to worry about that than about the latest episode of "24" coming true.

      So, you don't even WANT to know what we might/should/could do if someone/group (unlike an earthquake in California) actually simultaneously destroyed or just plain hosed up some key fiber routes and datacenters in LA, San Fransisco, New York, Vegas, and Northern Virginia at the same time? It's not like it takes nukes to still really screw it up. The sort of truck bombs that did the Murrah federal building would be pretty effective against a lot of infrastructure points. And a day or three of very latent or completely absent routes in and out of those areas and the ones that depend on them would be fantastically painful to businesses large and small... and thus to all of us. You don't have to be a Russia-backed super-hacker '24'-class villain to do that sort of stuff. Mostly, you just have to be willing to do things just like have already happened overseas plenty of times. Trucks, fertalizer, diesel fuel... and being willing to crash your rented truck through or up to the front door of a few not-very-unknown buildings.

      Never mind the loss of backbones... just half a dozen Level3 or Savvis datacenters would send serious shockwaves. Savvis has decent enough datacenter security when it comes to the walk-up, gun-toting sort of thing... but they're hardly truck-bomb proof.

      Terrorism is "the worst," in this sense, because it can be a distributed attack. Not a quake in one city, or a hurrican that hits two... but far more surgical, with far wider implications, economically, at least for long enough to genuinely smack the country's cash flow around. That's the peril of just-in-time manufacturing, drop-shipping retailers, internet-based payroll processing, and so on. Just the civil unrest from the loss of pr0n, alone... think of it!
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        What you just described is not terrorism, it's sabotage.
        Cutting the west coast from the rest of the Internet would not cause terror, just annoyance. I'd say as a terrorist target the Internet ranks pretty low.
      • You have nothing to fear but fear itself. Now quit being a chickenshit.
      • What you're saying makes sense, and indeed, during the Cold War, this was a large concern. Intelligence had shown that soviet ICBMs were aimed at critical US infrastructure points, and that a nuclear attack would likely aim for these infrastructure points instead of (or possibly in addition to) major population centers.

        Most of the infrastructure built at the time was designed to resist such an attack as best as possible. AT&T had a massive network [slashdot.org] of hilltop microwave transmitters which was abandoned
      • And what would happen would be a rehash of history. A quite small shit hitting a fan, couple days of stink and cleanup, some misdirected government overreaction, and then the life continues more or less like before. Happened many times in many contexts. Hardly worth sweating over. Hurricanes are worse.

        Temporary loss of connectivity is nothing fatal, merely an inconvenience. Perhaps expensive inconvenience, but still a mere inconvenience. And while the attacks can be parallel, the repairs can be parallel to

    • by Ontology42 (964454) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:59PM (#18734809)
      As a consultant I routinely receive requests for Disaster Recovery work for organizations ranging in size from a few hundred to a few hundred thousand. Depending on the alloted budget we work our way down the hardware.
      1. Redundant Network Connections
      2. Highly available Services (Applicaiton Clusters)
      3. Fail over - Off site if needed (Local, Metro, then off-site)
      4. Power backup & Isolation (Generators good for 48 hours at least if not more, plus filtration systems that will withstand a localized EMP)
      5. Testing - Smoking hole scenarios. (ie: where did NY, Chicogo, Washington, just go?)

      I am not at liberty to divulge my client list but I can say for certain that they are very interested in maintaining service availability even if their primary sites were hit directly by nuclear weapons. Services include all communications not just the internet. Arpanet was founded by the boys in green, they worry about these sorts of things.
      It becomes a matter of balanceing function with cost, the old engineering addage does ring true here more than anywhere else:
      Cheap, Fast, Reliable; pick any two!

      Companies like Hugues, Teleglobe, and various governments of the G8 do what their budgets allow to facilitate redundancy, however since terrorism is a good political tool to motivate sales (along with natural disasters) then people in the consulting industry will be well met to help the organizations that make the internet redundant.
      As for the power grid, Telcordia standards dictate that a carrier grade data center (if it's essential services) has to have some method of running even at a reduced capacity for extended periods of time. Thus there is a buffer provided for the local power company to get their systems working, that and most datacentres are close to large power supplies. This is the result of the original POTS standards. It's also the reason VOIP providers don't guarantee 911 service. The regulation and maintence costs on these datacenters is very high, which is how AT&T and Verizon justify charging an arm and a leg for your land line.
      Then again, I've seen Tier 1 data-centerers undone by a fire-systems worker (plumber) dropping a wrench on the -48V bus-bar and having instantaneously weld to the A-Frame causing millions in damage and making an entire city core go quiet. Who needs terrorists when we have difficulty hitting 100% availability on our own, normally?
    • by jd (1658)
      It's "the worst" because no business in its right mind is going to tell its shareholders "our design sucks because we were too cheap". Infrastructure needs an overhaul, nobody wants to pay for it unless gripped in a knot of absolute blind panic, so the obvious and easy solution is to create said panic. Problem solved. Mind you, if the Internet had complied with the design requirement of being nuke-proof to start with, we wouldn't be in this mess. The mess only exists because private industry conned American
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by incabulos (55835)
      Why is terrorism "the worst" now?

      Beats the hell out of me. I read the headline and assumed that a sysadmin had wandered into the office on a bright, fresh, monday morning and discovered that their datacentre had been mysteriously populated with Vista and SCO unix.
    • Ironically, TFA actually claims that we are pretty well prepared.

      We *ARE* prepared, but against terrorists.
      - Because there's some redundancy on the 'net. One small bomb attack can't bring down the whole planet's network.
      - Because, even if they could, it would be foolish for them to "shut down the whole internet" as they are using it for communicating too.
      - Because, as you point out, natural disasters are much more likely, frequent and deadly/damaging than terrorists, and it would be much more interesting to

  • good link (Score:3, Informative)

    by normuser (1079315) * <normuser@whyisthishere.com> on Saturday April 14, 2007 @01:52PM (#18733573) Homepage Journal
    here is a good link for the lazy http://www.networkworld.com/columnists/2007/041607 backspin.html [networkworld.com]
  • ummm, link? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888)
    I moused over the whole summary, but I couldn't find a link anywhere in there...
  • Already UNDER ATTACK (Score:5, Interesting)

    by redelm (54142) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @01:56PM (#18733613) Homepage
    What special skills or tactics do you believe "The Terrorists" [whomever they might be] possess? The Internet already copes with a deluge of spam, 'bots and trojans and varous DoS attacks. Not to mention the flash crowds.

    It might be hackneyed, but please remember the internet was designed to withstand hundreds of nuclear warheads. Half of any class of nodes can go down and the rest keep running.

    • by melikamp (631205)
      Ah, the good old warheads myth again [wikipedia.org]... The only thing that the Internet was designed to withstand is the direct hit by an academic researcher. And it copes pretty damn well.
    • by Darlantan (130471) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @02:32PM (#18733919)
      In the original model, yes.

      Nowdays? No. The internet isn't as robust as it used to be, because real redundancy costs a lot of cash. There are single buildings that could be hit that would cripple internet connectivity to entire regions, or at the very best reduce traffic to a near standstill. It's far from nuke-proof these days, nor is it very terror-proof.

      Having said that, I think terrorism isn't the big threat here. Earthquakes, hurricanes, and flooding are more pressing concerns. It is a certainty that one of them will do severe damage to a US city at some point in the future, and those sort of events do much more than take down a single building. Fiber cuts, power interruption, etc.
      • by redelm (54142)
        Agreed that actual, planned redundancy cost more than people are willing to pay. Fortunately, it is not needed. Almost all ISPs/hosters/corps of any size are multi-homed, and the traffic will just divert if one comes down. Sure, the paths will be longer, latencies higher and traffic slowed. But not stopped.

      • The problem is control of supply and therefore profit. Specifically, routing.

        You'll find that your ISP etc will absolutely not allow routing of other networks across your regular connection. They barely tolerate wireless routers. Essentially they insist you act as a leaf node. If you want to do more, expect it to cost a bundle.
  • Dear Zonk (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Eil (82413)

    Dear Zonk, your posts to Slashdot are uninformative, full of errors, and not relevant to anyone's interests. Please go away.

    Also, anyone who agrees with me, please tag this article "zonkism".
  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @01:57PM (#18733627)
    I've been reading this site for years, and yet I'm constantly impressed by the quality exhibited.

    For instance, in a story about how resistant the Internet is to attack, the editors apparently decided to demonstrate what a possible attack might look like.

    Take a look! [schend.net]

    Bravo!
    • Looks like you used cmd-shift-4 to take that, and drew a square with the crosshairs slightly larger than your Safari window. Did you know that if you hit cmd-shift-4, then hit the spacebar when you see the crosshairs, you can take easy snapshots of entire windows without having to draw the boundaries? Try it.
  • In this reply [slashdot.org] to a thread on security breaches, I said businesses need to have a plan for disasters of various sizes.

    This goes for infrastructures as well. Those who manage them must be prepared for everything from a cable cut to a planet-smashing asteroid.

    "Prepared" doesn't always mean being able to fix the problem. It may just mean declaring in advance that the problem won't be fixed and moving on with life. Or in the case of a disaster guaranteed to be fatal, accepting that this is the end.

    If the citi
  • Why in the world are we dependent on the Internet in the first place? Relying so much on such a uncontrollable beast is a recipe for disaster anyway, even without terrorists.

    "eggs in one basket"
    • Who would you like to have controlling it?
    • Why in the world are we dependent on the _______ in the first place? Relying so much on such a uncontrollable beast is a recipe for disaster anyway, even without terrorists.

      1. Internet
      2. Electrical grid
      3. Interstate Highway system (or your national trasnportation system of choice.)
      4. Petroleum infrastructure
      5. Microsoft Corp. (Hey, it's Slashdot.)
      6. Postal system
      7. Telephone network
      8. Municipal water supply
  • There actually is several secret links in case of catastrophic failure. :)
  • I guess if an invading army decided to hit all your NAPS you're SOL (all your NAP are belong to us) but a greater threat might be a chip embargo during a war or a period of instability. Open up your box lately? The Asian Tigers have our peckers in their pockets. I fully expect this to occur downstream and it's a greater threat to "national security" than most want to admit.
    • by jonwil (467024)
      The big chip centers in the region Taiwan & South Korea are friends with the US.
      I think that we have more to fear from the chinese blowing Taiwan off the map than we do of any kind of Taiwanese embargo.
  • Egoism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cyphercell (843398) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @02:08PM (#18733739) Homepage Journal
    Terrorists would not attack the Internet, they would attack the power grid. This article is IT egoism and paranoia, the physical robustness of our national communications systems should not be questioned unless we expect a prolonged bombing campaign, which incidentally is what the Internet was designed to survive. My personal order of operations would be:
    1. Bomb the power grid
    2. Bomb the freeways
    3. Bomb the phone system
    4. Bomb Cellular towers
    5. Bomb the tv system
    6. Bomb the Radio stations
    7. Bomb the locations that make satellite TV and satellite internet possible

    Wrecking the US's communications systems would require a significant industrial expense and commitment, this doesn't come from terrorists.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by davidwr (791652)

      1. Bomb the power grid
      2. Bomb the freeways
      3. Bomb the phone system
      4. Bomb Cellular towers
      5. Bomb the tv system
      6. Bomb the Radio stations
      7. Bomb the locations that make satellite TV and satellite internet possible

      If I were a minor terrorist I'd probably truck-bomb a local public building, take down a highway overpass, or poison the water supply.

      If I had the resources of a major terrorist organization, my goal would be to inflict the maximum terror with the minimum chance of getting caught beforehand.

      I might run a few private planes full of explosives into rural school cafeterias during lunch or into movie theaters on the opening weekend for a big blockbuster. Not only are many rural areas soft targets but like att

      • Re:Egoism (Score:5, Interesting)

        by cyphercell (843398) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @03:33PM (#18734539) Homepage Journal

        I would instead focus on scaring Americans into giving up their civil liberties and forcing America to spend more of its budget on internal defense, leaving less money available for outside wars.

        Sixteen days after 9/11 my daughter was born, it scared the shit out of me. I wondered if I would be drafted for war, I wondered if she would, one day go to war, I wondered if one day she would have to prepare for terrorist attacks in school, I wondered if she would be snuffed out two weeks into life by some nasty man made virus, I wondered if the virus had already been released and we just didn't know it yet, I thought a lot about my daughter's future and how I would raise her to deal with it. I was thoroughly terrified of the future.

        Looking back on all of that I realize that Americans did more to terrify ourselves than the enemy ever could have. We've lost thousands of soldiers and spent billions of dollars in this war on terror and we are only more terrified, it doesn't make us safer, it doesn't keep the power on, we're not flying safer, our water, internet, phones, roads, schools, our children are not safer, and hell we don't even feel safer. It's all at risk now, because we've spent all of our money and time trying to lock things down, keep things safe and protect ourselves from the boogeymen.

        Today, my daughter is five, she can read, tie her shoes, and does well with math. She doesn't know what a terrorist is and they don't talk about that in school. Her little brother is also doing great, neither has gone hungry or lonely or cold a day in their lives and we still haven't finished our Y2K rations. They know only one thing about politics and it's that George W. Bush is a dumb ass. They also know what consumerism is and the ways that the TV can affect them.

        I'm sick of hearing about terrorists and terrorism. I'm not scared of a terrorist attack and in fact, I'd rather be scared than watch another one of our civil liberties gobbled up by the administration or watch another funeral on the news. I'm so fucking sick of hearing about this "post 9/11" bullshit, that I could scream. We weren't safe "pre 9/11" and there isn't a fucking thing we can do to become safe in a post 9/11 world. Get over it. Life is fragile and raising your children in a bubble will not make them safer. In fact, once they inevitably leave that bubble they will not be able to survive the harsh reality that is "fresh air". So thanks George W. for a nation that cannot move without asking themselves WWTTD? (What Would The Terrorists Do?)

        • by Bug-Y2K (126658)
          Cyphercell, I want to thank you personally for summarizing so well the state of the nation right now. Thank you.

          I wish nothing but success and comfort for you and yours.

          --chuck

      • by vought (160908)
        If I wanted to cause medium-term damage I'd probably blow up a lock or dam on the lower Mississippi.

        There is no such thing, although the Old River Control Structure [wikipedia.org] is a critical river control apparatus, shunting the Mississippi when it is in flood. Attacking the ORCS during flood would be catastrophic for shipping and petroleum prices, and could cause tens of thousands of deaths.

        The locks and dams are all far, far upriver, before it turns into a mile-wide behemoth.
    • by shmlco (594907)
      All that bomb making is messy, dangerous, and can be tracked. Personally, I'd get some books and the source to Linux and start looking for a couple of good hacks. Heck, I might even become a contributor so some of my "special" changes were integrated into the source tree.

      That, coupled with a good router takedown, and some off-the-shelf Windows trojans ought to do the trick. Who needs bombs when you can wipe half the computers on the net?
    • by cdrguru (88047)
      5 real Stinger missles, 10-20 fake ones (no warhead), 100 empty tubes that look like missles.

      That is all it would take. Shoot down three jetliners in disparate parts of the country, pretty much any country. This would shut down air travel - all air travel, worldwide - for a while. When they start back up because obviously "the threat is gone", shoot down two more.

      Air travel and cargo shipments would be over. Possibly forever. The economic ripples of this would give the West something to think about whi
    • Just disable them during rush hour. Pour a couple of boxes of caltrops [wikipedia.org] out the back of a van would pretty much do it.

       
      • by toddestan (632714)
        Even that's a bit much. If you want to shut down the freeways during rush hour, a handful of cars with some superficial damage parked in pairs strategically along the freeway is all you would need around here.
  • Yes and no (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jhines (82154) <john@jhines.org> on Saturday April 14, 2007 @02:20PM (#18733831) Homepage
    Yes in theory. Remember it was designed to survive global thermonuclear war.

    No in practice. Because it is cheaper not to. Those multiple routes and connections are more expensive than a simple, single one which works just fine on a clear sunny day.

    The reality is somewhere in between.
  • I can still hand sketch and draw and communicate with construction personnel just fine. Although sophisticated hardware and software are helpful they are by no means required. Most people in front of monitors these days are space-fillers that satisfy a salary budget and not much more.

    The goal of doofus management is to place as many people/layers between themselves and firing time. That's why we know have vice-presidents of every imagineable sort. Anyone with a brain will note that this phenomenon started
  • by cpaglee (665238) on Saturday April 14, 2007 @02:55PM (#18734143)
    The premise of Internet interuption is probably much more likely to occur as a result of natural disasters. A serious earthquake near Taiwan on Dec. 27th 2006 DID shut down most of the Internet for China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6211451.st m [bbc.co.uk] I was IN China at the time and it was ... horrible. The major telcos in Beijing, China Netcom, was not so great at recovering from it. China Telecom in Shanghai did a much better job. Japan, Korea and Taiwan recovered much quicker because their ISPs were willing to spend money on alternate Internet paths via satellite. China Netcom was just too cheap and screwed over their customers. The Internet never actually went completely down, but you were not able to surf the Internet. Email was problematic, but IM and VoIP still worked. Most of the problem was that port 80 requests far exceeded the available bandwidth, so everything just ground to a hault. MSN and Skype still worked like a charm. I had friends IM me web page content so that I could 'surf' pages I desperately needed to read. I also used proxies in Australia to gain access to the USA Internet and this worked quite well. I think the idea of a terrorist organization trying to bring down Internet infrastructure is completely ludicrous. Terrorists want to take lives, and bringing down the Internet is not going to take (that many) lives. This is just another sad example of the sorry state of paranoya we live in under the Bush administration post 911. Just as there will NEVER be another successful hijacking of an airplane in the USA again, not because of the stupid security we have to go through at airports, but because normal every day airplane passengers will kill the terrorists rather than let terrorists take over an airplane again, ever. We do NOT need to worry about things that will never happen, and terrorists trying to shut down the Internet by blowing up infrastructure? It is just NOT going to happen. A bomb would be better used where there is a high concentration of people. Maybe the Internet will be compromised through a virus or malware or bots - these are things we should worry about, but NEVER by physical force. We really need to STOP giving attention to these fear mongers who promote these stupid ideas.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ross.w (87751)
      Not only that but groups like Al Quaida RELY on the internet for putting out those videos of people being beheaded, etc. They are quite net savvy themselves and know how to use it for their own purposes. Terrorists from the American Revolutionaries through the French Resistance, the Zionists and the PLO never blew up stuff they used themselves.
  • How much critical/central points have Internet for an effective phisical attack? Something that could do a big phisical harm to it probably could do a more effective one against population.

    In virtual wold the attacks are currently under way, maybe not that for religious or political reasons (?) but mainly for economical ones. Spam, botnets, trojans, exploiting vulnerabities, etc, are the "bombs" in internet, and, with a bit of luck, the people that do/run them could eventually be processed as terrorists too
  • Just bomb second lifes datacenter
  • like the internet, that are publicly under attack by thousands of malcontents a day are not necessarily secure, but have become hardened over time. And that is why they are still around today. If the internet was a fragile creature it would have been killed long ago. Although we have seen viruses that travel through the internet, we have yet to encounter a virus that attacks the infrastructure itself. Although there is always the possibility that this is related in part to random chance, I like to think
  • by rlp (11898)
    Ironic considering that a design goal of the Arpanet (the predecessor of the Internet) was to be robust in the event of network component / communications line failures.
  • How vulnerable is the internet to terrorist attack?

    Expected damage = Sum(types of damage) [ size of damage * probability of damage ].

    So you really need to ask, how likely is it that terrorists will target the internet, considering all the other things they could target instead? And even that is too vague a question, since it presupposes an attack against "the entire internet". How hard would it be to "bring down the internet" whatever that means, and how much money and technical skill do "they" have, wh

  • Why would you (as a disciple of terror) ruin the one conduit that runs in to millions of businesses and homes?
    This is pre-internet thinking and the road to ruin.

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=210824&cid=171 77778 [slashdot.org]

    Think about the geniuses in WWII and what they (the Axis Powers) had operational (hint: Jets).
    (BTW where did those geniuses end up?)
    You wouldn't blow up the road to Rome before you used it to conquer IT.
    Blow shit up? That's soooo American ... think people.

    Examples:
    A coalition of Madmen (usi
  • You only need one electromagnetic bomb to fry all electronics within a mile radius. Put a few of those within striking distance of each major datacenter, and Internet will be pretty much gone overnight. And a datacenter is not something you can easily hide - it can be tracked down by its massive electricity requirements and heat output.
  • Depends (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PzyCrow (560903)
    Terrorist may or may not attack the Internet directly. But how vulnerable is the Internet to Government attacks? Can the Internet (i.e. the end-to-end principle) survive all laws passes as a result of Governments using terrorists as an excuse to control it?
  • This is immensely overblown. I happen to directly oversee multiple nationwide optical networks of varying layers (1-4) with roughly a half terabit of real data capacity at my fingertips. Situations that could be considered OMG CATASTROPHIC occur semi-frequently, sometimes a few in a day, sometimes a couple weeks without. What most people don't understand is that there are long haul optics hanging right over their head carrying ~96 or more fibers, DWDM OC-192 (10G/s, so that's almost 2Tb capacity right there
  • If the intarwebs get broken, maybe we can fall back on sneakernet to exchange pr0ns? Or set all our wifis to ad-hoc? It is a terrifying prospect, no matter how well we are prepared.

  • Let's go back a few decades and look at how the internet was designed, and why it was laid out that way: The core idea was, no single point of failure (because, then, of a nuclear attack) would lead to the structure's collapse.

    Now we're fearing exactly that. Though we switch "nuclear russian" with "terrorist islamic" in the fear context, the rest is pretty much the same. And why? Because we're being cheap and a single line is enough for the "commercial" internet.

    That's simply what you get when you commercia
    • Why is it that every time the Internet is mentioned someone brings up that old chestnut of it being built to survive a Nuclear war. Vin Cerf, one of the originators of the Internet has specifically stated [findlaw.com] that the purpose was to share computers.

      was Re:Isn't it ironic?
  • ...must be to stop having 90% of desktop users on a series of operating systems for which the vendor has repeatedly failed miserably at adressing numerous vulnerabilities, causing widespread sabbotage, phishing and data theft costing god knows how much money every year. I mean seriously, can anyone actually come up with anything a terrorist organisation could pull off which is going to have a worse impact on the nets general stability security and performance than Microsoft windows? This is not even taking

Entropy isn't what it used to be.

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