North American Network Operators Group

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Centralized control of the Internet decreases resilience

  • From: Sean Donelan
  • Date: Sat Apr 05 22:11:00 2003

In this Iraq war it appears the Internet failed first, followed by the
wireline telephone system, portions of the electrical grid.  Iraq did not
have a cellular telephone service.

Part of the reason why Internet service was knocked out early was Iraq's
apparent centralized control.  Uruklink had very little diversity or
redundancy, and appeared to route all of its traffic through a single
centralized point.

The Bahgdad telephone network was composed of 20 central offices, but
relied on four critical offices.  It appears to have taken a few attempts
to disrupt the telephone network, but it eventually succumbed.

Broadcast television and radio had taken a beating, but Iraq appears to
have planed ahead and had extensive backup broadcast facilities and spare
parts.  Broadcast service has been off the air for a few hours, but then
comes back.

Satellite services including satellite television and telephone service
seems to survived the longest.  However, satellite services are eventually
controlled by a very few organizations.  Although it may be difficult to
attack on the ground, pressuring international satellite providers to turn
off transponders is possible.,1280,-2528727,00.html
  In recent days, telephone exchange bombings have isolated many of the
  city's 5 million residents. At least six phone centers have been hit,
  and most phone lines are down. Intermittent service within certain
  neighborhoods was still available on Wednesday.

  ``I can only reach the Sheraton Hotel across the road,'' said the
  Palestine Hotel operator. Foreign journalists who remain in Baghdad are
  staying at the hotel. ``I have no work to do,'' the operator said. ``No
  local calls and no international calls.''
  "Bombed telephone exchanges have offered the most graphic scenes of
  destruction - thousands of wires splayed out like a gaping wound, with
  furniture, computers, and wall insulation everywhere, but everything
  nearby left alone."