[ISN] Digital Destruction Was Worst Imaginable

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Mar 05 2002 - 00:21:02 PST

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    Forwarded from: William Knowles <wkat_private>
    March 04, 2002
    Washington - 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.
    While those losses pale in comparison to the human tragedy, federal
    and industry officials for the first time painted a frightening
    picture of what the terrorist attacks did to the U.S.  
    telecommunications infrastructure that fateful day and revealed just
    how fragile the nation's economic digital backbone can be.
    According to officials at the homeland security conference here last
    week, sponsored by the Fairfax, Va.-based Armed Forces Communications
    and Electronics Association, the collapse of the World Trade Center
    towers in New York inflicted severe damage on one of the most critical
    telecommunications nodes in the country: the main regional switching
    center operated by Verizon Communications at 140 West St., adjacent to
    World Trade Center 7, which collapsed.
    The resulting devastation was "the most significant challenge that the
    National Communications System had ever seen," said Brenton Greene,
    deputy manager at the National Communications System (NCS), which is
    responsible for all the major telecommunications networks that have
    national security significance.
    In addition to the immediate wireless circuit overload, the collapse
    of the towers sent a massive steel beam slicing through a bundle of
    critical fiber cables buried eight feet below ground, destroying more
    than 4 million high-speed access lines and rupturing water lines that
    filled underground switching vaults with more than 10 million gallons
    of water.
    The damage knocked out 1.5 million circuits that served the financial
    district, threatening the country's economic stability, said Greene.
    The Verizon facility housed enough equipment to make it the "most
    communications- intensive area in the U.S.," said Bruce Fleming,
    divisional technology officer at New York-based Verizon.
    Virtual Army Fights Back
    That fact wasn't lost on the Bush administration, Greene said. Once
    emergency response and rescue efforts were given the support they
    required, the White House ordered Greene to make restoring Wall Street
    connectivity the next priority.
    Restoring the Verizon backbone, however, would require a virtual army
    of federal and industry technicians. Primary power had been lost, and
    backup power, which was running on diesel fuel generators, began to
    fade quickly.
    Lucent Technologies Inc. in Murray Hill, N.J., one of Verizon's main
    systems providers, rushed a 100,000-line switch to the scene to
    replace another massive switch that had been sent crashing through the
    window of the Verizon building. The company also put all of its
    customer requirements on hold and made its entire inventory available
    to rescue services, said Greg Butler, a Verizon vice president who
    coordinated incident response efforts.
    In addition to the damage incurred by Verizon, at least 139 fiber
    rings in surrounding buildings and 26 building-specific fiber rings
    failed, said Dick Price, vice president of field operations at
    WorldCom Inc.
    "From a macro level, our national security should be a major part of
    our telecommunications policy," said Fleming. "If it can happen, it
    hasn't happened yet."
    "Communications without intelligence is noise;  Intelligence
    without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
    C4I.org - Computer Security, & Intelligence - http://www.c4i.org
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