Monday, January 08, 2018

The Russians are Cutting! The Russians are Cutting!

As long as we're looking for Russians hacking the Internet, let's worry about them physically attacking it, too, my severing the cross-Atlantic links:

US Navy officials have warned for years that it would be devastating if Russia, which has been repeatedly caught snooping near the cables, were to attack them. The UK’s most senior military officer said in December that it would “immediately and potentially catastrophically” impact the economy were Russia to fault the lines. NATO is now planning to resurrect a Cold War-era command post in part to monitor Russian cable activity in the North Atlantic.

Of course, they say it is hard to cut all the cables and would "only" affect communications off the North American continent. Gosh, is that all?

It was only 11 years ago that my worries about the Internet being physically attacked were met with confidence about how robust the Internet is. Now we worry Russia might figure it out.

And I'll note what I noted back then about the presumed redundancies of the Internet, and I assume it is even worse now:

I still recall reading an article in pre-blog days that our Internet infrastructure is different than the original defense-related web. I read that we have concentrated nodes in single buildings for ease of maintenance and environmental control. So nodes that in the past would be scattered are now concentrated. Then, if a node broke down from an attack, traffic would reroute through another node a hundred miles away. Today, if a node breaks down on its own from a simple non-hostile fault, one ten feet away in the same bulding may be the one that takes over. That's no problem in peacetime. But if the building is destroyed, a lot of backups will go down, too.

Of course, my memory could be faulty. Or the situation could have gotten better since I read that article.

I hope that more than a decade of growth in the Internet has made it more resilient just from size. But I don't assume that is the case.