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Computer Terrorism: What are the risks?

Chapter 3: Vulnerability of systems


This chapter is intended to quote some incidents which happened in significant systems such as the telephone company or an airport.They were not criminal acts, but only "normal" incident.


Breakdown of the AT&T long-distance network

January 15, 1990, following a software update of telephone switches, the long-distance network of AT&T was down during 9 hours relsutling in 60' 000 people completely unable to use telephone and 70 million blocked calls(million others passed without problems). The problem started from a switch in Manhattan and was spread across the country in less than ten minutes [STERLING92].

A cut cable paralyses an airport

October 15, 1990, a grower of trees in the suburbs of Chicago damaged a significant telephone cable, depriving 150' 000 people of telephones. ATMs of some banks were paralyzed. All flights to the international airport O' Hare were delayed because the control tower lost contact with the principal FAA air control center for the Chicago area [RISKS-10.62].

Telephone breakdown: Three paralyzed airports

September 17, 1991, the power to a group of telephone switches of the area of New York is cut and the spare batteries do not engage. Moreover, the two people in charge of monitoring the system werefollowing a course on the procedures in the event of breakdown that day! As a result, three airports were closed: Kennedy, Guardia and Newark. 500 flights were cancelled, 500 others delayed [STERLING92].

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