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The Telecom Digest for February 15, 2013
Volume 32 : Issue 40 : "text" Format
Messages in this Issue:
Re: The Pentagon And Cyber Defense, Cyber Warnings (Fred Goldstein)
Re: Emergency Alert System hacked (Moderator)
Re: Susan Crawford -- why USA 'Net access is slow, costly, unfair (Thad Floryan)
CenturyLink workers in West closer to striking (Joseph Singer)

====== 31 years of TELECOM Digest -- Founded August 21, 1981 ======

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Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2013 11:20:52 -0500 From: Fred Goldstein <invalid.see.website@ionary.com> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Re: The Pentagon And Cyber Defense, Cyber Warnings Message-ID: <511D0EE4.40001@ionary.com> A couple ishs back, kludge@panix.com (Scott Dorsey) wrote >> Fred Goldstein <fgoldstein@remove-this.ionary.com> wrote: >> >>> There is a new internetworking protocol under development, far from the >>> IETF and its TCP/IP fanbois, which addresses these and other problems. >>> It's called RINA, Recursive InterNetworking Architecture. >> >> And it will never be adopted by any substantial user base, despite >> Mr. Goldstein's evangelizing in this newsgroup. > > Telecom Digest Moderator wrote: >> Why not? > > Because, like or not, we have a huge installed IP base that isn't going to > go away and isn't going to change. IP connectivity is everywhere, and it's > just so incredibly cheap that it's hard to compete with. I think they said that about horses too. ;-) Seriously, while IP is cheap, it isn't useful for everything. It is extremely costly for many applications, due largely to security issues. You have to take into account how the monoculture has run roughshod over corporate IT and embedded applications, neither of which benefit from universal connectivity, and where unwanted access is extremely serious. RINA is far more secure, since it starts with the assumption that all networks are private unless opened to the public, the opposite model from IP. See the PouzinSociety.org and irati.eu web sites for some material on the subject. But more importantly for adoption, RINA is more compatible with IPv4 than IPv6 is. It encapsulates IPv4 flows very cleanly, should you want to do that. And if you don't need QoS, it can encapsulated in IP packets, allowing native RINA applications to run anywhere. So the phase-in can be more gradual, without the ugly dual-stack that IPv6 generally needs. The end user doesn't even have to know it's there in the middle. And since IPv6 offers no benefits to end users (all the benefits of a minor point revision and all the costs of a forklift upgrade), it isn't going to take over. > Personally I would like to have seen ATM be adopted, if only because > it allows circuit switched and packet switched connections to share > the same channels on a reliable basis with predictable behaviour. > But it didn't really take off because IP was there first. ATM was interesting and could have done good things had it been fully developed. BTW RINA allows the same (and more) QoS options. ATM failed because of the business model, though. It was initially developed by the telecom industry (CCITT B-ISDN project) but they couldn't figure out how to offer high-bandwidth circuits cheaply enough to do video (the goal) while not having to lower the price of low-bandwidth voice calls, which were a cash cow, grotesquely overpriced (remember, this was 20 years ago and most usage rates were higher than now). Fear of cannibalization. Then the non-telecom world (focused on ATM Forum) started to adopt ATM as a LAN, but Fast Ethernet was much cheaper and killed it. ATM ended up as the backbone of DSL networks, linking DSLAMs to aggregation hubs. It probably peaked in the late 2000s, before Carrier Ethernet-based DSLAMs started taking away market share. > God, I hate VoIP and all the other attempts to run realtime data > over packet switched systems. But... it's so cheap... I agree that it's fundamentally a bad idea, even though it can be made to work. It's not even so cheap when compared on an apples-to-apples basis. What's cheap is untaxed VoIP compared to the monopoly-priced PSTN, and what's cheap is modern IP equipment compared to what legacy TDM switches cost in 1988. Yeah, Windows 8 is much, much cheaper than VMS V4, om a per-cycle-on-day-of-FRS basis. But of course modern TDM equipment is cheap too, if you know where to look for it. It's just unfashionable. The Internet is groovy and the hep cats on Wall Street and in Silly Valley think anything using "Internet Protocol" is groovy too, even if they don't understand it. -- Fred R. Goldstein fred "at" interisle.net Interisle Consulting Group +1 617 795 2701
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2013 11:06:49 -0500 From: Moderator <telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.remove-this.telecom-digest.org> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Re: Emergency Alert System hacked Message-ID: <kfj21f$v6g$1@dont-email.me> On 2/13/2013 9:03 AM, Ken Hoehn wrote: > Hmmm..... > > The government planned & designed a modification to the EAS (Emergency > Alert System) that connects the EAS encoders at [all] the TV > [stations], all cable channels, all satellite channels, and all > broadcast radio stations to the /_Internet_/. > > When I first heard that plan a few years ago, I said "No, they can't > be serious". > > This happened yesterday, and I'm amazed it took so long: > > > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Z_Eg17rLlQ > > > > http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/local/upper_peninsula/hacker-warns-of-zombies-on-mi-stations > The link that Mr. Hoehm provided points to a story about how a fraudulent message was sent out over the Emergency Alert System equipment at several Midwest TV stations. The alert, which contained a warning about bodies rising from their graves and attacking the living, is shown on the U-Tube video linked above. I interviewed Eric Smith, the General Manager at WNMU, which was one of the stations affected, and asked him to comment on various aspects of the incident. Mr. Smith's insights showed both a refreshing candor, and a command of network essentials that is rare among executives, and I pass them along to improve the ratio of bandwidth to content. There were a couple of surprises: Mr. Smith took pains to say that the security lapse was outside the EAS itself, and that the breach occurred via equipment located at the TV station. He said "People were gaining accesss to these local boxes, and these were one of a kind attacks that they were executing". When I asked if the EAS transmissions were enciphered, Mr. Smith answered by saying "I'm convinced that EAS is secure": while I applaud Mr. Smith for not dodging the issue, I'm curious if the readers can provide information about the EAS, and if there's any legal restriction that might prevent us discussing it's setup or security. The second surprise was, as I say, that Mr. Smith showed a level of candor that I find both refreshing and puzzling: I had a career as a broadcast engineer in a previous life, and I found out that hard way that TV stations aren't usually forthcoming when it comes to their internal politics or technology. Mr. Smith declared that "We were fortunate that the message was benign", and said "They did us a favor", when I asked about the security fault that enabled the attack. He went on to say "part of the problem is, sometimes as broadcasters we install these systems, and we're focused on implementation and operation instead of security." When I asked for additional details, Mr. Smith said that "this has pointed out that security is as critical as some of the other considerations we have in maintaining these systems." He continued with a surprising analogy: "I kind of liken it to washing your hands. If you're not tuned in to germs and viruses, you don't see the need to wash your hands". I wondered aloud if old analog techs like me, whom were trained to push amps out the antenna and condemned to endlessly pursue the last half-percent of harmonic distortion, were up to the task of securing digital equipment from intrusion. Although Mr. Smith didn't respond to my implied question directly, he did say that "there have been lots of improvements, and many changes, but along with that comes the need to recognize security and to make sure that staions have people who understand those issues and can take care of them." In summary, then: 1. This was a security breach in purpose-built equipment located at the stations in question. 2. The EAS itself was not hacked: someone found a backdoor into local boxes. 3. Although the possibility of the viewing public overreacting to a report of Zombies is admittedly remote, this breach reminds us of the Defender's Dilemma: security is about covering up ALL the holes, not just the ones that are obvious or known in the trade. In closing, I pass along Mr. Smith's answer to my question "What would you change"? He said "I would have gone back during the installation process and I would have asked different questions. ... Security will now be as important as price, capabilities, and all those other things." Bill Horne Moderator
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2013 14:35:43 -0800 From: Thad Floryan <thad@thadlabs.com> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: Re: Susan Crawford -- why USA 'Net access is slow, costly, unfair Message-ID: <511D66BF.3010008@thadlabs.com> On 2/12/2013 11:40 PM, Thad Floryan wrote: > Three URLs here regarding the 8-FEB-2013 interview: > [...] > Who is Susan Crawford: > http://billmoyers.com/guest/susan-crawford/ > > [...] > > http://billmoyers.com/segment/susan-crawford-on-why-u-s-internet-access-is-slow-costly-and-unfair/ > > [...] > " Susan Crawford, former special assistant to President Obama for > " science, technology and innovation, and author of Captive > " Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New > " Gilded Age, > " [...] > " "The rich are getting gouged, the poor are very often left out, > " and this means that we're creating, yet again, two Americas, and > " deepening inequality through this communications inequality," > " Crawford tells Bill. > > > http://billmoyers.com/wp-content/themes/billmoyers/transcript-print.php?post=24164 > > [...] I found an additional item providing more background material: "The Communications Crisis in America" Vol. 5, 2011, Harvard Law & Policy Review (HLPR) PDF, 19 pages, 440kB: http://hlpronline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Crawford.pdf " " [...] " This piece aims to explain how the cable distributors' natural " monopoly has arisen, to raise the policy questions that are " prompted by recognition of this problem, and to provide " suggestions for next steps. For the last eight years or so, " our country's telecommunications policies have been based on " the assumption that competition among different forms of " communications-transmission providers (phone, cable, satellite, " wireless, or broadband-over-powerline) would protect Americans " from a wide range of abuses, rendering regulatory oversight " unnecessary. The slow cultural enervation that can arise from " continuous industry consolidation has become an untouchable " third rail of discussion. Meanwhile, entire careers have been " devoted to maintaining and supporting the heroic narrative of " competition. What follows if, as seems to be the case, it " turns out that this story is not true? " [...]
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2013 17:40:55 -0800 (PST) From: Joseph Singer <joeofseattle@yahoo.com> To: telecomdigestmoderator.remove-this@and-this-too.telecom-digest.org. Subject: CenturyLink workers in West closer to striking Message-ID: <1360892455.19800.YahooMailClassic@web121905.mail.ne1.yahoo.com> Union leaders representing CenturyLink workers in 13 states moved closer Thursday to allowing a strike but plan to keep negotiating with the telecommunications company. http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020357372_apcocenturylinkstrike2ndldwritethru.html?syndication=rss or http://goo.gl/mhKiX
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