If you were to take a stroll along the Columbia river in Oregon. You might find the quaint city of Dalles. In Dalles, is a sizable Google data center. All that data needs some fat pipes to flow through, so The Big G installed dedicated fiber lines to the facility. The only problem is that the hanging fiber lines make tempting targets for bored hunters. For the last few years, Google has been plagued by outages caused by hunters opening fire at the lines each winter.
Whenever these lines are damaged, Google technicians have to make their way into the wilderness to repair them. Some of these locations can be remote, requiring a Caterpillar tractor, or even a helicopter to reach if the weather is poor. On one occasion, some lines were shot down during a snowstorm. The repair crew had to cross-country ski for three days to get to the damage and repair it.
After realizing this was a losing battle, Google recently decided to build an underground channel for the fiber lines. Presumably, the hunter will leave the lines alone if the tantalizing fiber is hidden from their immediate view.
The internet is becoming increasingly popular with both state and non-state actors as a launchpad for attacks against critical infrastructure belonging to their enemies. A new McAfee report gives a measure of the preparedness and vulnerability of key infrastructure enterprises.
“From public transportation, to energy to telecommunications, these are the systems we depend on every day. An attack on any of these industries could cause widespread economic disruptions, environmental disasters, loss of property and even loss of life,"said McAfee CEO Dave DeWalt.
He fears an attack of the magnitude of the recently discovered Operation Aurora being targeted at critical infrastructure. DeWalt termed Operation Aurora “a watershed moment in cybersecurity.” The attack was recently discovered by Google, which revealed that the attackers used zero-day bugs in Internet Explorer and targeted several other organizations apart from Google. It is said to have emanated from China.
Officials say that the spies – thought to be from Russia, China and other countries – only wanted to take stock of the American electrical infrastructure and intended no immediate harm. "There are intrusions, and they are growing," a former Department of Homeland Security official told the WSJ.
Both the Russians and Chinese have rebuffed the allegations against them. It is difficult to ascertain whether or not these cyber-saboteurs are acting at the behest of a foreign government.
Love it or hate it, there’s no looking over the big possibilities that the stimulus package holds for the future of our nation’s broadband infrastructure – and starting tomorrow the folks at the FCC are going to start discussing just how they’re doing to divvy the cash up.
With $7.2 billion of the total $787 billion allocated from the package, the FCC will begin looking for ways to outfit those living in rural areas with access to high speed Internet. They’ll also start looking at ways to improve the speeds of existing broadband infrastructure.
This is quite the undertaking, no doubt about it! Good thing they’ve got until next February.
President-elect Barack Obama will have his hands full trying to get the economy back on track once he officially takes office next month, and if the media reform group Free Press has any say in the matter, a major investment in the nation's broadband infrastructure should be high on the list.
In a 30-page reported titled "Down Payment on Our Digital Future: Stimulus Policies for the 21st-Century Economy", the Free Press proposes spending $44 billion in broadband stimulus funds over the next three years. The vast amount of funds would be used to build next-generation broadband networks, connecting rural areas without broadband service, making high speed connections more affordable, providing PCs and training to low income users, promoting children's access to technology at school and at home, and ensuring clear standards of quality, affordability, and competition.
"Promoting the deployment of a national, forward-looking broadband infrastructure will provide substantial short-term and long-term economic benefits," S. Derek Turner, study author and research director of Free Press, wrote in the report (PDF). "This deployment effort will immediately create tens of thousands of new jobs in the telecommunications, manufacturing, and high-tech sectors."
The United States ranks 22nd in the world in broadband adoption, with over 40 percent of all U.S. homes still without a high speed connection. Obama previously said that investing in computers and broadband for schools and hospitals would be part of his immediate economic recovery plans, but no specific amount was ever mentioned.
Would spending $44 billion be overboard? Hit the jump and sound off.