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North American Network Operators Group

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Cascading(?)Failures Revisited

  • From: sgorman1
  • Date: Fri Jan 10 13:09:08 2003

Recently came across the paper below on the Los ALamos site and it 
addresses a topic discussed earlier about how traffic is redistributed 
when a node is compromised.  When the researchers included capacity 
loads in their equations they find some pretty severe consequences (3000 
of 5000 disconnected by one nodal failure in the simulation), but the 
(real-world) analysis is done on the AS network and I believe there was 
talk of cascading failures not applying to the Internet in the first 

I was curious what assumptions the folks on NANOG would suggest if you 
were trying to model how traffic would be redistributed in the event of 
a node or mulitple node failure.  Any input would be greatly 

Cascade-based attacks on complex networks

We live in a modern world supported by large, complex networks. Examples 
range from financial markets
to communication and transportation systems. In many realistic 
situations the flow of physical quantities in the
network, as characterized by the loads on nodes, is important. We show 
that for such networks where loads can
redistribute among the nodes, intentional attacks can lead to a cascade 
of overload failures, which can in turn
cause the entire or a substantial part of the network to collapse. This 
is relevant for real-world networks that
possess a highly heterogeneous distribution of loads, such as the 
Internet and power grids. We demonstrate that
the heterogeneity of these networks makes them particularly vulnerable 
to attacks in that a large-scale cascade
may be triggered by disabling a single key node. This brings obvious 
concerns on the security of such systems.

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