Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Stuck in the Web

The Internet was attacked yesterday:

Hackers briefly overwhelmed at least three of the 13 computers that help manage global computer traffic Tuesday in one of the most significant attacks against the Internet since 2002.

Experts said the unusually powerful attacks lasted as long as 12 hours but passed largely unnoticed by most computer users, a testament to the resiliency of the Internet. Behind the scenes, computer scientists worldwide raced to cope with enormous volumes of data that threatened to saturate some of the Internet's most vital pipelines.

So was this a practice attack (with China the prime suspect, if so, I should think)?

If so, I think the hackers are confused. Once upon a time, the Internet was a diffused system of links that could easily reroute the limited traffic around any breakage in the many links.

But with so much commerce relying on the Internet, relying on a diffuse system designed to endure a nuclear attack and still function sufficiently to let us fight back did not make much sense. It made more sense to concentrate computing power in single buildings to route the traffic. This is the difference between war where redundancy is God and commerce where efficiency is paramount. Note the article says that 3 of 13 computers that help to manage global traffic were overwhelmed.

Thirteen! That's the target list, people. That isn't a web. It isn't even much of a net. And yet somebody thinks that it is important to practice attacking those thirteen critical computers by hacking them.

Look, it is one thing to hack around looking for information. That's great for the country with the hackers. And that should absolutely be done over the Internet.

But if I was in charge of the plans to take down the Internet because the enemy could exploit it more than I can, I'd knock out those thirteen critical computer sites--the chokepoints of the Internet--with regular ol' missiles rather than worry about training legions of hackers to overwhelm them with cyber-bombs.

When facing such a system as we have now that relies on thirteen crucial computer sites, using real bombs is the real way to knock out the Internet. People are getting so wound up in exploiting cyber-warfare that they forget that physical infrastructure is best destroyed by high explosives and not by hacking into the system and tricking the refrigerator and toaster to overheat and burn the place down.

I know that sounds so obsolete in our new age, but physical computers blow up real good.

UPDATE: See my back track here. I still think I am right in theory, but this particular group of computers is not the weak link of the Internet.