[ISN] Telecom Firms Rebuild, Beef Up Security

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Sat Mar 22 2003 - 00:52:13 PST

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    By Christopher Stern
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, March 21, 2003 
    In the year and a half since terrorist attacks in New York and at the
    Pentagon crippled communications networks along the East Coast,
    telecommunications companies have invested heavily to fortify their
    Verizon Communications Inc. was hit the hardest in 2001 when iron
    girders and rubble from the World Trade Center towers collapsed onto
    its network facility in Lower Manhattan, severing service over more
    than 200,000 telephone lines and 3 million data circuits. Tens of
    millions of dollars' worth of equipment was covered in soot and
    debris. A water-main break flooded the facility's basement. AT&T
    Corp., meanwhile, had equipment in the basement of the towers that was
    destroyed by the buildings' collapse.
    Both companies have rebuilt their damaged facilities and, like other
    telecommunications firms, have spent the past 18 months focusing on
    ways to minimize disruptions in the future.
    All over the country, telecommunications companies have added
    fiber-optic lines, increased their ability to reroute traffic and
    beefed up their security in response to lessons learned in the
    September 2001 attacks. The federal government is also participating
    in the effort by encouraging the industry to take additional steps to
    protect its networks.
    "One thing we learned from 9/11 is that redundancy works, but we have
    to do more of it," said Mark Marchand, a Verizon spokesman.
    Verizon, the dominant local phone provider from Maine to Virginia, was
    able to get the New York Stock Exchange and other heavy
    telecommunications users up and running within a week of the disaster
    by rebuilding networks and rerouting calls to other parts of Verizon's
    Since the attacks, Verizon has spent $1.4 billion installing new
    fiber-optic cables and equipment in Lower Manhattan. Long-distance
    giant AT&T has made similar efforts to bolster its facilities, and
    like Verizon, has redistributed equipment that had been based in Lower
    Manhattan elsewhere in the city in an effort to protect itself from a
    single event wiping out operations.
    Qwest Communications International Inc, the largest local telephone
    company in 14 western states, may have a 100-year history of
    recovering from natural disasters such as blizzards, floods and
    tornadoes, but the prospect of man-made threats forced the company to
    rethink its emergency planning, according to Pamela J. Stegora Axberg,
    senior vice president for national network services.
    One of the first things the company did was to evaluate its buildings
    for potential threats from car bombs and other attacks. Qwest then
    worked with local municipalities to erect barricades and take other
    precautions. The company has adjusted regular security at its
    buildings based on what national security alerts are issued by the
    Department of Homeland Security.
    Jeffrey M. Goldthorp, chief of network technology at the Federal
    Communications Commission, has been working with the nation's leading
    telecommunications companies for the past year. He was reluctant to
    discuss specifics but did point to one unnamed company that he said
    recently moved a huge database to a hardened underground shelter. The
    database will be a key resource in case the network, or any section of
    it, needs to be rebuilt.
    The FCC also recently orchestrated a series of "mutual aid" contracts
    between companies that allow them to work together immediately after a
    disaster without having to negotiate costs or other legal issues.
    Stegora Axberg noted that the industry has always put a premium on
    building reliability into its networks. Terrorism is just another
    added consideration. "There is always more that we can keep doing. I
    don't know if it is something you are ever done with," Stegora Axberg
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