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Re: The Backhoe: A Real Cyberthreat?

  • From: Daniel Golding
  • Date: Fri Jan 20 01:00:26 2006


This is a question of hierarchy of risk and scarce resource allocation.
Fiber infrastructure is relatively well protected (by the ground), hard to
damage (requires big machines), and has service restoration capabilities
(routing protocols, optical ring protection, et al). A large scale
(regional) telecom network outage is a big deal and can be economically
devastating. However, its tough to pull off, and, more importantly, it takes
time to do the damage.

Walking into a Boston/NY/Chicago subway station with a vest packed with c4
at rush hour, is another ball of wax. Its easier to pull of 10 simultaneous
suicide attacks against public transit than it is to induce a major regional
telecom outage through fiber cuts, IMHO.

If I was a terrorist, I'd rather try to take out points of fiber
concentration, and my tool would not be a backhoe. I won't elaborate, but I
think most folks can figure out a few modalities of attack.

Too many people know where those points of concentration are and how to
crack them open. I don't think restricting government information is going
to help much. Scarce DHS resources should be applied elsewhere.

- Dan

On 1/19/06 1:00 PM, "" <> wrote:

> While it is always fun to call the government stupid, or anyone else for that
> matter, there is a little more to the story.
> - For one you do not need a backhoe to cut fiber
> - Two, fiber carries a lot more than Internet traffic - cell phone, 911,
> financial tranactions, etc. etc.
> - Three, while it is very unlikely terrorists would only attack telecom
> infrastructure, a case can be made for a telecom attack that amplifies a
> primary conventional attack.  The loss of communications would complicate
> things quite a bit.
> I'll agree it is very far fethced you could hatch an attack plan from FCC
> outage reports, but I would not call worrying about attacks on
> telecommunications infrastructure stupid.  Enough sobriety though, please
> return to the flaming.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Joe Maimon <>
> Date: Thursday, January 19, 2006 12:01 pm
> Subject: Re: The Backhoe: A Real Cyberthreat?
>> Dennis Dayman wrote:
>>> "In 2004, Department of Homeland Security officials became
>> fearful that
>>> terrorists might start using accidental dig-ups as a road map
>> for deliberate
>>> attacks, and convinced the FCC to begin locking up previously
>> public data on
>>> outages. In a commission filing, DHS argued successfully that
>> revealing the
>>> details..."
>>> --MORE--
>>> -Dennis
>> This is really stupid. Assuming the terrorist actually have the
>> dozens 
>> of backhoes needed to completely erase meaningfull internet
>> connectivity 
>> in north america, they would probably prefer to use them to smash
>> cars 
>> and kill people on the interstate highways or something.
>> Terrorist inflict terror by killing people, not by forcing
>> internet 
>> explorer to display "page cannot be displayed".
>> Let us not assume that murderous terrorist are as dumb as people
>> in DHS.

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