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China Telecom debacle exposes Internet's biggest vulnerability

Roger Grimes | Nov. 29, 2010
Shortcomings in Border Gateway Protocol enabled sensitive data to be rerouted to China, yet no changes will likely be made.

The grand experiment known as the Internet is showing its flaws. It was essentially (if only partially) funded as a way to demonstrate that a large, interconnected network could be created to withstand a large-scale failure eventsuch as a nuclear attackand the surviving nodes would continue to operate. To that end, it has been proven successful over the span of two decades. No single incident has completely crippled it for long, although there have been some near scares.

However, the Internet was not created with the expectation that every single transaction would be secure between communicating parties. It wasn't developed to support mission-critical applications, which is what's now expected on the Internet, piping no less.

Last April's BGP incident is yet another wake-up call. Will we as a society recognise the fact that today's Internet is insecure and that we need to deploy a better solution soon, or must we wait to experience some kind of tipping point? I know the answer, and it isn't pretty.

 

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