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Re: Vulnerbilities of Interconnection

  • From: sgorman1
  • Date: Sat Sep 14 22:45:55 2002

It is interesting that you cite Paul Baran since his work at RAND was 
arguably the first to recommend a distributed network.  The start of 
the quasi myth that the Internet was developed to withstand a nuclear 
attack.  If my memory serves me correct that was Baran's assignment, 
but it was not the driving force behind the creation of ARPANET the two 
were non-sequitor.

The point being from a structural stand point there is convincing 
empirical evidence that the Internet is not a distributed network.  It 
is what physicists would call a small world or scale free network.  
Most of this work has been done at the router and AS level.  For 
example the vast majority of routers have only a few connections, while 
a small minority has the vast majority of conections.  The applied side 
of this I think I've posted about before, so please pardon the 
redundancy, is that Internet as the AS and router level is very 
resilent to random failures but highly susceptible to targeted 
failures.  This has become so predominant in the literature it has left 
many folks asking questions along the lines of security.  Just to give 
you a brief flavor the finding have been from Barabasi's group at Notre 
Dame in 2000, Cohen in Israel slightly later, and Callaway in 2001.  
Similat findings have been found from a spatial perspective with a 
group at BU's computer science department and the Notre Dame group as 

This has led a scramble to come up with new Internet topology 
generators - another laundry list of references and approaches - but 
the reported security implications have had a bumpier road.  Are all 
these computer scientist and physicists wrong, I'm sure a good case 
could be made against them, but it leaves several open questions.  
There have been several good cases made for the resilence of the statas 
quo and good arguments that there could be problems.  The question is 
how much of it is political.  One side looking for problems they can 
point fingers at in the name of homeland security and one side denying 
any problem at all because it is a lot cheaper if there is no problem.

----- Original Message -----
From: Sean Donelan <>
Date: Friday, September 13, 2002 7:49 pm
Subject: Re: Vulnerbilities of Interconnection

> On Fri, 13 Sep 2002 wrote:
> > Or you cut the lines coming into the city - i.e Chicago has 
> about 5
> > diverse routes for fiber into the city.  No explosives required 
> and you
> > get the same effect.
> The early ideas for the arpanet/internet never said every point 
> would work
> under all conditions.  The premise was if you destroyed (which implies
> something is in fact destroyed) part of the network, the surviving 
> partsof the network could function.  It said nothing about the 
> ability of the
> part of the network which was destroyed to function.  It may be 
> obviousthe destroyed portion of the network will not function, but 
> sales people
> don't always go out of their way to explain the concept.
>  The Paradox of the Secrecy About Secrecy by Paul Baran, August 1964
>  [...]
>  The overall problem here is highly reminiscent of the atomic energy
>  discussions in the 1945-55 era--only those who were not cleared were
>  able to talk about "classified" atomic weapons. This caused security
>  officers to become highly discomfitured~by the ease with which
>  unclassified clues were being combined to deduce highly accurate
>  versions of material residing in the classified domain. This 
> points up
>  a commonly recurring difference of opinion (or philosophy) 
> between the
>  security officer and the technically trained observer. The more
>  technical training an individual possesses, the less confidence he
>  seems to have of the actual value of secrecy in protecting the 
> spread  of new developments in a ripe technology. True security 
> does not always
>  equate to blanket unthinking secrecy. While the security value of
>  effective secrecy can be high, we must be realistic and 
> acknowledge the
>  constraints of living in a free society where effective secrecy in
>  peacetime is almost impossible. Avoiding a touchy subject by falling
>  back on edicts rather than rationality may automatically insure the
>  continued existence of the touchy subject.
>  [...]

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