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Separate Peace?

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During and just after this Christmas we’ve witnessed multiple Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks primarily towards national media portals, lastly towards the Finnish Broadcasting Company, interrupting most radio/tv network streams and news delivery for a couple of hours. Many of our customers have used the BaseN Platform successfully in maintaining situational awareness and been thus quick to mitigate and block these attacks, but the trustworthiness of these portals has clearly been dealt with a blow. 

Authorities play down the attacks by hinting that they’re just vandalism by young individuals being bored during the holidays. It may be so, but we cannot rule out a systematic test towards our national communications capabilities. Speculation and rumors are not good, but denial is worse. 

The increased magnitude of these DDoSes has fuelled the societal discussion on how to prepare and withstand them in future. One of the old world solutions is to start creating separate networks for different user groups – one for the military, one for the police and internal security, one for healthcare and so on. This is patently wrong. 

Multiple networks will cause an interconnection mess beyond measure. Naturally a lot of network security and routing people will be employed, but since more and more systems rely on accessing data from an arsenal of external sources, these networks will slowly converge uncontrollably with gateways and other hacks, resulting an unmanageable, insecure and low-performance jungle. 

A much more viable solution is to create and maintain a defensible, thoroughly managed and simple high speed backbone that can withstand an attack or ten. The more critical services running on it would be, the more encryption would happen end-to-end. A public network would also be interchangeable and readily augmentable with a battlefied network from terminal (user) perspective, enabling the much needed fluidity during different kinds of attacks. 

I hope this ‘separation’ development does not lead to multiple road or railway networks depending on their users. 

//Pasi

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