North American Network Operators Group

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Trust in cyberspace

  • From: Sean Donelan
  • Date: Sat Jan 15 19:36:45 2000

I visited the bookstore (you know, those places you bought books before and picked up a copy of "Trust in cyberspace."  Although
much of the book is concerned with "security," I was pleased to see
some coverage of other problems which reduce people's confidence in
network systems.

The chapter on the "Public Telephone Network" (PTN) and the Internet
trustworthiness has a very good overview of the design decisions,
types of failures and attacks.  Unlike many cyber-assurance studies
which only focus on the "hacker" attack; congestion, link failure
(aka Backhoe attack), and operator error are included in this book.
Most of us are aware of the security weakness with the current Internet,
but this book is one of the first I've seen to list several weaknesses
in the Public Telephone Network in on place.

One oversight is the book doesn't really explain the definition of
"failure" or "outage" varies between the PTN and the Internet. So you
can't easily compare reliability measurements between them.  The famous
99.999% reliability of the PTN doesn't translate to the Internet because
the Internet measurements include things normally excluded by the PTN
measurements, e.g. congestion.

One important buzzword I would call your attention to is "Minimum
Essential Information Infrastructure."  This is a creation of a
RAND researcher in 1995, and is percolating around the cyber-assurance