As Johna Till Johnson watched World Trade Center collapse, burying Verizon Communications’ megacentral office in rubble, she had an epiphany. “If they really wanted to do damage, they would have taken out the telco building,” she said. “They went after the thing that had press potential.” Johnson wasn’t alone in that assessment. Although the network performed remarkably in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., the attacks reminded security experts, network providers and administrators, and policy makers that the world’s miraculously robust telecommunications network remains extremely vulnerable. Long-haul networks, central offices, peering points, telecom hotels and metro loops may fall victim to low-tech attacks by backhoes and bombs. Wireless networks that may wobble if a cell site or two is lost are only as good as the wireline network that supports them. At the edge of the network hangs a mishmash of computers and routers that are essentially an open door to a list of threats as vast as the imagination. “I think our communications system is vulnerable to the things we don’t consider, like terrorism,” said Frances Clairmont, former director of Pacific Bell’s Network Access Point (NAP). “I don’t think it is vulnerable to… Read full this story
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