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The Internet Under Crisis Conditions Learning from September 11 Committee on the Internet Under Crisis Conditions: Learning from September 11 Computer Science and Telecommunications Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W.Washington, DC20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this project was provided by the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group in Data Communication (ACM SIGCOMM); the IBM Corporation; and the Vadasz Family Foundation, a contributor to the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board’s program on information technology and society. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number 0-309-08702-3 Cover image courtesy of Verizon Communications. Cover designed by Jennifer Bishop. Copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 in the Washington metropolitan area. Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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COMMITTEE ON THE INTERNET UNDER CRISIS CONDITIONS: LEARNING FROM THE IMPACT OF SEPTEMBER 11 CRAIG PARTRIDGE, BBN Technologies, Chair PAUL BARFORD, University of Wisconsin, Madison DAVID D. CLARK, Massachusetts Institute of Technology SEAN DONELAN, SBC Communications VERN PAXSON, International Computer Science Institute’s Center for Internet Research JENNIFER REXFORD, AT&T Labs–Research MARY K. VERNON, University of Wisconsin, Madison Staff JON EISENBERG, Senior Program Officer and Study Director MARJORY S. BLUMENTHAL, Director DAVID PADGHAM, Research Associate KRISTEN BATCH, Research Associate DAVID DRAKE, Senior Project Assistant JANET D. BRISCOE, Administrative Officer
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COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS BOARD DAVID D. CLARK, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chair ERIC BENHAMOU, 3Com Corporation DAVID BORTH, Motorola Labs JOHN M. CIOFFI, Stanford University ELAINE COHEN, University of Utah W. BRUCE CROFT, University of Massachusetts, Amherst THOMAS (TED) E. DARCIE, AT&T Labs–Research JOSEPH FARRELL, University of California, Berkeley JOAN FEIGENBAUM, Yale University HECTOR GARCIA-MOLINA, Stanford University WENDY KELLOGG, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center BUTLER W. LAMPSON, Microsoft Corporation DAVID LIDDLE, U.S. Venture Partners TOM M. MITCHELL, Carnegie Mellon University DAVID A. PATTERSON, University of California, Berkeley HENRY (HANK) PERRITT, Chicago-Kent College of Law DANIEL PIKE, Classic Communications ERIC SCHMIDT, Google, Inc. FRED SCHNEIDER, Cornell University BURTON SMITH, Cray, Inc. LEE SPROULL, New York University WILLIAM STEAD, Vanderbilt University JEANNETTE M. WING, Carnegie Mellon University Staff MARJORY S. BLUMENTHAL, Director HERBERT S. LIN, Senior Scientist ALAN S. INOUYE, Senior Program Officer JON EISENBERG, Senior Program Officer LYNETTE I. MILLETT, Program Officer CYNTHIA PATTERSON, Program Officer STEVEN WOO, Dissemination Officer DAVID PADGHAM, Research Associate KRISTEN BATCH, Research Associate PHIL HILLIARD, Research Associate JANET D. BRISCOE, Administrative Officer MARGARET HUYNH, Senior Project Assistant DAVID C. DRAKE, Senior Project Assistant
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JANICE SABUDA, Senior Project Assistant JENNIFER BISHOP, Senior Project Assistant BRANDYE WILLIAMS, Office Assistant
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Preface Although secondary to the human tragedy resulting from the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, telecommunications issues were significant that day both in terms of damage (physical as well as functional) and of mounting response and recovery efforts. The Internet has come to be a major component of the nation’s (and the world’s) communications and information infrastructure. People rely on it for business, social, and personal activities of many kinds, and government depends on it for communications and transactions with the media and the public. Thus there is interest in how the Internet performed and was used on September 11. Unlike the situation with longer-standing telecommunications services (notably the public telephone network), there are few regulations, policies, or practices related to the Internet’s functioning in emergency situations. Nor are there many publicly available data to help policy makers or the industry itself assess the Internet’s performance—either on a continuing basis or in the aftermath of a crisis. No regular system exists for reporting failures and outages, nor is there agreement on metrics of performance.1 Some experiences are shared informally among network 1 A pilot effort was made by the Federal Communications Commission to collect outage information under the auspices of the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council, but this was limited to a voluntary trial, recently ended in 2002. Interest in mounting a new voluntary effort continues in some quarters.
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operators or in forums such as the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG), but that information is not readily accessible for national planning or research purposes. The decentralized architecture of the Internet—although widely characterized as one of the Internet’s strengths—further confounds the difficulty of collecting comprehensive data about how the Internet is performing. It is therefore unsurprising that no definitive analyses exist on the impact of September 11 on the Internet, though a few conflicting anecdotal reports about its performance that day—such as several presentations at NANOG indicating relatively little effect2 and press accounts suggesting that the impact was severe3—have appeared. Responding to an initial request in early 2002 from the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group in Data Communication (ACM SIGCOMM), the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) established the Committee on the Internet Under Crisis Conditions: Learning from the Impact of September 11. The committee’s charge was twofold: to organize an exploratory workshop for gathering data and accounts of experiences pertinent to the impact of September 11 on the Internet, and to prepare a report that summarizes the Internet’s performance that day and offers conclusions on better preparing for and responding to future emergencies. A diverse group of industry representatives and researchers participated in the workshop (see Appendix A). They were invited to share information candidly, with the understanding that the organizing committee would take care not to publish sensitive or proprietary information. Consequently, although the committee has strived to present as much detail as possible, specific figures or names of organizations have been omitted in some instances. Following the workshop, the study committee decided to supplement what was obtained there, so additional information in several areas was gathered from a number of sources. 2 North American Network Operators Group 23rd Meeting, October 21-23, 2001, Oakland, Calif. Presentations available online at <http://www.nanog.org/mtg-0110/agenda.html>. 3 According to an article in ComputerWorld: “Extent of cyberinfrastructure devastation on Sept. 11 unprecedented, officials say. For several tense hours on Sept. 11, the nation was deaf, dumb and blind due to the ‘absolutely massive’ loss of communications infrastructure resulting from the collapse of the World Trade Center, a senior government official said last week.” The article goes on to focus on consequences of damage to a Verizon central office but implies much wider impact. Dan Verton. 2002. “Digital Destruction Was Worst Imaginable,” ComputerWorld, March 4. Available online at <http://www.computerworld.com/managementtopics/management/recovery/story/0,10801,68762,00.html>.
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The overall human and economic costs of the September 11 attacks— which dwarf in significance the attacks’ effects on the Internet—have been widely covered and are not examined here. Instead, this report focuses on three issues related to the Internet: (1) the local, national, and global consequences of the destruction that occurred in New York City; (2) the impact of the crisis, including the actions of users as well as the effects of the physical damage; and (3) how people made use of the Internet in a time of crisis. The project was small—reflecting its relatively narrow focus and the objective of producing a report quickly—and had limited resources. These considerations, combined with the relative paucity of data, mean that the committee’s assessment was not comprehensive. Instead, the committee examined several sources of data that revealed the overall status of the Internet on September 11 as well as shortly thereafter, and it drew on the detailed experiences of several Internet service providers. This was sufficient to derive a rough sense of that day’s impact on the Internet infrastructure nationwide—and worldwide. The committee and the CSTB acknowledge the financial support provided for this project by ACM SIGCOMM, the IBM Corporation, and the Vadasz Family Foundation. Their support enabled but did not influence the outcome of the committee’s work. The committee also wishes to thank the workshop participants for their thoughtful contributions and for their comments on a draft of this report. Responsibility for the report, however, remains with the authoring committee.
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Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Geoffrey Baehr, U.S. Venture Partners, Steven Bellovin, AT&T Labs—Research, Scott Bradner, Harvard University, Geraldine MacDonald, America Online, Inc., Udi Manber, Yahoo! Inc., and Andrew Odlyzko, University of Minnesota. Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Robert R. Everett, Honorary Trustee of the MITRE Corporation. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an
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independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
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Contents SUMMARY AND FINDINGS 1 1 INTRODUCTION 11 A Brief Overview of the Internet, 11 What Would It Mean for the Internet to Fail?, 13 A Brief Overview of Events on September 11, 2001, 14 2 THE NETWORK EXPERIENCE 21 Overview of Damage and Impairment, 22 Collapse of North and South Towers, 23 Building 7 Collapse and Damage to Verizon Central Office, 23 Electrical Power at Co-location Sites in Lower Manhattan, 24 Internet-wide (Global) Phenomena, 25 Routing and Reachability, 25 Traffic Load Across the Internet, 29 Domain Name System, 31 Specific Nonlocal Effects, 31 Difficulties Accessing POPs, 32 Disruption of the DNS in South Africa, 32 Interdependency in Hospital Wireless Networks, 33 Restoration Efforts, 33 ISP Cooperation, 34 Improvising to Restore Connectivity, 35
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The Experiences of Other Communications Networks: Telephone, Wireless Voice and Data, and Broadcasting, 36 Telephone, 36 Cellular Telephones, 37 Broadcast Television and Radio, 38 3 THE USER EXPERIENCE 40 Impact on Business in the Immediate Area, 40 People on the Net, 41 The Internet as a Source of News, 42 The Internet as a Means of Communicating Between Individuals, 44 The Internet and Community, 47 Overall Use of the Internet, 48 4 PERSPECTIVES ON THE INTERNET EXPERIENCE OF SEPTEMBER 11 49 Other Outages: Operator Errors and Infrastructure Faults, 49 Operator Error, 50 Infrastructure Faults, 51 Attacks on, or with, the Internet, 53 Baseline: Effects of Damage on September 11, 53 If the Internet Were the Target, Would There Be Greater Impact?, 54 Possible Effects of a Deliberate Electronic Attack with the Aid of, or Against, the Internet, 57 5 MEASURING THE INTERNET 61 Network Measurement Methods and Tools, 62 Active Measurement Tools, 63 Passive Measurement Tools, 64 Measurement Challenges, 67 Proprietary Data, 67 Consistency in Data and Analysis, 67 Representativeness, 67 The Future: Targeted Assessment During a Crisis, 68 Global Network Monitoring, 68 Targeted Measurement During a Crisis, 69 APPENDIXES APARTICIPANTS IN MARCH 5-6, 2002, WORKSHOP 73 BCOMMITTEE MEMBER AND STAFF BIOGRAPHIES 74