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Subject: IP: Forward into the past: "securing the phone system"

  • From: David Farber <>
  • Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2001 01:44:12 -0500

>From: "Bob Frankston" <>
>To: "Dave Farber" <>
>[[[Dave -- I was going to add some more philosophical comments and
>observations to this but decided you'd prefer an entry that focused on a
>particular issue. I will try to put together a coherent set of comments
>about how the current situation compares with fears and realities of the
>50's and about xenophobia at a time when embracing the world is more
>vital than ever. But the real point I need to write about on my on site
>is why we not only must, but can, tolerate disruptive change. This
>includes civil liberties. Expectations of a suitcase bomb park on
>Pennsylvania Ave (in DC, not the one I lived on in Brooklyn), doesn't
>create a good environment for considered discussion. At least we haven't
>built bomb shelters yet -- instead we have SDI.]]]
> >From the New York Times "Attacks at Hubs Could Disrupt Phone Lines"
>November 23, 2001 By SIMON ROMERO
>Once more, it is disturbing to find that the current fears are used as a
>way to argue against change. The vulnerability of the phone network is
>being blamed on the requirement that companies open up their systems to
>competitors. This is an outright lie since the "small club" approach to
>telephony created vulnerabilities by focusing on a security perimeter
>that separated the good guys from the bad guys.
>The issue is really insufficient openness. The effort to deal with the
>problems of openness have the added benefit of requiring that one deals
>with threats be their simple errors or malicious. We should assume that
>any system that is not tested by stress is likely to be vulnerable.
>Before the "blue box" the "club" model of telecommunications security
>allowed for complacency.
>The article closes by noting
>"A move toward more decentralization is key, but it's something that
>will probably happen slowly," said A. Michael Noll of the University of
>Southern California
>Qwest has announced that it is moving towards IP-based telephony. We
>already have a decentralized telecommunications system thanks to
>openness! (Of course redundancy at the packet level is an issue that
>must be addressed.)
>Using fear as an excuse to stop progress in telecommunications is just
>one more reason I am worried about the current "war" as it is used to a
>return to an simplistic past rather than recognizing the value of
>disruptive change.
>Bob Frankston

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