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Building a crash-proof internet

作者:聂语栲    发布时间:2019-03-02 07:08:07    

By Bennett Daviss ON 18 July 2001, a freight train derailed in the Howard Street tunnel running beneath downtown Baltimore, spilling 20,000 litres of hydrochloric acid. The resulting chemical fire destroyed fibre-optic cables owned by eight major US internet carriers. Moments later, Verizon Communications, which operates key portions of the internet’s physical infrastructure in the US, lost links to two operations buildings and several other carriers’ networks. For many hours, internet traffic slowed to a crawl across the entire country. “That tunnel is basically the I-95 [the main US East Coast highway] for fibre,” one repair contractor told reporters. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime place for vulnerability.” Eight years on, and events have proved otherwise. A series of catastrophic failures seems to suggest that the internet is rather more vulnerable to accidents, earthquakes or misplaced ships’ anchors than people thought. At tens, perhaps hundreds, of places around the world, the net seems to be hanging by a thread. These days a major failure has the potential to cause far greater disruption than in 2001. Yet much of the internet’s physical infrastructure is decades old. It badly needs upgrading, but clearly we can’t just tear up sections of the network and rebuild them from scratch. Nor is it likely that governments and telecoms companies will bear the enormous costs of laying extra connections simply to insure against temporary problems. So how can we make the net more resilient? Nick McKeown, a computer scientist at Stanford University in California,

 

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