(The study is available at
http://books.nap.edu/books/0309087023/html/index.html. WEN)

Study Finds Internet Showed Resilience in Terrorist Attacks 
(Analysis explores how to brace information technologies for future
attacks) (1050)

The Internet sustained minimal damage when terrorists attacked New
York City's World Trade Center in September 2001 even though the
attack occurred at one of the world's greatest hubs for information
traffic. A study issued by the National Research Council (NRC)
November 20 offers that conclusion at the same time that it reveals
Internet vulnerabilities in crisis situations and suggests ways to
ameliorate those in case of future attacks.

"The terrorist attacks provoked a national emergency during which we
could see how the nation and the world use the Internet in a crisis,"
said Craig Partridge, chair of the NRC committee that wrote the
report, and chief scientist at BBN Technologies in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. "Overall, the Internet displayed not only its
resilience on September 11, but also its role as a resource," said
Partridge in a press release issued by the NRC.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, quick fixes of equipment
and networks were mounted to correct the Internet disruption that
occurred in New York and surrounding areas, the study found. Those
problems do suggest that Internet service providers and users need to
develop better contingency plans for possible outages in the future.

Following is the text of the NRC press release:

(begin text)

National Academy of Sciences
National Research Council
Office of News and Public Information
Nov. 20, 2002

Internet Damage From Sept. 11 Terrorist Attacks in New York City Was
Limited, But Better Contingency Plans Are Needed

WASHINGTON -- The overall effect of the damage to the Internet on
Sept. 11, 2001, when the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings
destroyed communications equipment and networks, was minimal, says a
new report from the National Academies' National Research Council.
Internet service providers and users need to address some operational
issues, however, to better prepare for and respond to future
emergencies in light of the useful role the Internet played after the

New York City, one of the nation's most important communication hubs,
is home to many Internet users, private data networks, and Internet
service providers. Multiple fiber-optic grids run beneath its streets,
and many trans-Atlantic cables come ashore nearby. Telecommunications
facilities not only serve the many thousands of Internet customers in
the city but also interconnect service providers throughout the region
and in other countries.

"The terrorist attacks provoked a national emergency during which we
could see how the nation and the world use the Internet in a crisis,"
said Craig Partridge, chair of the committee that wrote the report,
and chief scientist, BBN Technologies, Cambridge, Mass. "New York City
is a 'super hub' of Internet links and services, and the collapse of
the World Trade Center buildings damaged some of those links and
services, often in subtle and surprising ways. Overall, the Internet
displayed not only its resilience on Sept. 11, but also its role as a

Serious effects on the Internet were isolated to New York City and a
few other locations. Most of the damage was quickly remedied through
improvisation, the rapid deployment of new equipment, and the
rerouting of Internet traffic to bypass failed parts.

Although the events of Sept. 11 do not necessarily indicate how the
Internet might behave in response to a direct attack on the network,
they do shed light on possible vulnerabilities, the report says. Key
businesses and services that use the Internet need to review their
dependency on it and plan accordingly. For example, a New York City
hospital learned that its doctors had come to rely on wireless
handheld computers fed through an external Internet connection. When
this link was briefly broken by the collapse of the towers, doctors
had trouble accessing medical information. Contingency plans, more
coordination with local authorities, and a means of restoring service
remotely also are needed to better deal with electrical power

As a whole, the attacks affected Internet services very little
compared with other telecommunications systems. Telephone service was
disrupted in parts of lower Manhattan, and cell-phone service suffered
more widespread congestion problems. Nearly one-third of Americans had
trouble placing a phone call on the day of the attacks. The Internet,
however, experienced only a small loss of overall connectivity and
data loss, the report says. With phone service impaired, some
individuals used instant messages on their wireless handheld devices
and cellular phones to communicate instead. Web sites were created to
distribute lists of missing persons and other information to help
people try to locate loved ones.

The attacks also caused a surge in demand for news reports. Television
was the primary source of news for many, but the Internet provided
another means. The Web server capacities of several major news
services were briefly overwhelmed that day. For example, CNN's online
network experienced nearly 10 times more traffic than the day before.
To meet the demand, Web pages were simplified and capacity was added
so that more Internet users could access the sites.

This study was sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery's
Special Interest Group on Data Communications, IBM Corp., and the
Vadasz Family Foundation. The National Research Council is the
principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the
National Academy of Engineering. It is a private, nonprofit
institution that provides science and technology advice under a
congressional charter. A committee roster follows.

The report The Internet Under Crisis: Learning From September 11 is
available on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu. Copies will be
available for purchase this winter from the National Academies Press;
tel. (202) 334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242.

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
Computer Science and Telecommunications Board

Committee on the Internet Under Crisis Conditions: Learning From the
Impact of September 11

Craig Partridge (chair)
Chief Scientist
BBN Technologies
Cambridge, Mass.

Paul Barford
Assistant Professor
Department of Computer Sciences
University of Wisconsin

David D. Clark
Senior Research Scientist
Advanced Network Architecture Group
Laboratory for Computer Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sean Donelan
Internet Security
SBC Communications
Mountain View, Calif.

Vern Paxson
Senior Scientist
ICSI Center for Internet Research, and
Staff Computer Scientist
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Berkeley, Calif.

Jennifer Rexford
Technical Staff Member
AT&T Labs Research
Internet and Networking Systems Research Center
Florham Park, N.J. 

Mary K. Vernon
Professor and Vilas Associate
Department of Computer Sciences and 
Department of Industrial Engineering
University of Wisconsin

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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