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Internet2 Taken Out by Stray Cigarette 315

Posted by samzenpus
from the only-you-can-stop-internet-fires dept.
AlHunt writes "A fire started by a homeless man knocked out service between Boston and New York on the experimental Internet2 network Tuesday night. Authorities say the fire, which also disrupted service on the Red Line subway, started around 8:20 p.m. when a homeless man tossed a lit cigarette. The cigarette landed on a mattress, which ignited and led to a two-alarm fire."
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Internet2 Taken Out by Stray Cigarette

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  • obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:36AM (#18968739)
    Obligatory firewall joke here, please...
    • Forget hardhack, this is hobohack!
    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:21AM (#18969091) Journal
      It actually was a successful test of the ultimate firewall. It prohibited all malicious hacking on Internet2.
      • G0d@|\/|N smokers! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ukemike (956477) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @08:47AM (#18971611) Homepage
        You know cigarette smokers somehow think that flicking their butts isn't littering. It pisses me off to no end. HEY SMOKERS, YEH YOU! Put them out and then throw those butts in the trash, pathetic litterbugs. It's bad enough we have to smell your stink, we shouldn't have to look at your trash strewn all over the place.

        Hopefully not too many smokers have mod points today...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sporkme (983186) *
      In other news, a molehill has become a mountain. Here's tom with the weather:

      I am reminded of This 2001 train accident [com.com] in Baltimore, where a tunnel fire severed a major internet backbone among other things and disrupted local communications as far away as Africa. [thestandard.com] It seems that while decentralized and robust on the massive scale, the internet is vulnerable as a child to small accidents or attacks, whose ramifications can be felt worldwide. It is too big to be defended or destroyed.
      • Re:obligatory (Score:4, Interesting)

        by plover (150551) * on Thursday May 03, 2007 @09:19AM (#18972035) Homepage Journal
        The same thing happened here in Minneapolis in the mid 1990s. As I recall, some homeless people had built a fire under a bridge, and it destroyed a couple of conduits mounted beneath the bridge deck. The conduits held the main fibers of US West connecting Minneapolis to the backbone, blacking out the city. Apparently US West was unaware that their backup fiber providers leased space beneath the same physical bridge as their own fibers.

        Since then, more carriers have installed more fibers. I don't know if carriers ever sit down and compare "bottlenecks" but I doubt that a single point of failure remains here.

        As far as the Africa thing you pointed out, it's a case of a single application being down because the required servers were offline. It's certainly not a reflection of weakness with "the internet" but with that corporation's architectural design -- if they were dealing with a mission critical application, why didn't they have geographically diverse redundant data centers? The answer could have been "money" or it could have been "inexperience". Either way, the internet didn't fail the people in Africa, WorldCom failed their subscribers (there's a news flash.) It's a huge difference.

        • by CmdrGravy (645153) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @10:10AM (#18972913) Homepage
          I worked somewhere once which had one main comms link and then a backup comms link if the first one went down. They had bought each one from a different carrier to be on the safe side only they hadn't realised one carrier was simlpy leasing space on the other carriers link, the exact same link their main one ran over.
    • Geek priorities... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AndersOSU (873247) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @07:08AM (#18970549)
      INTERNET DOWN! THE experimental INTERNET that nobody uses WENT DOWN, in a fire that killed three people and did millions of damager to property.
  • by Splezunk (250168) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:37AM (#18968749) Homepage
    take out the internet... what hope do we stand against nukes?
    • by iabervon (1971) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:03AM (#18968929) Homepage Journal
      This is what happens because the internet is designed to deal with nukes. If a nuke took out the Longfellow Bridge, Internet2 users in Boston wouldn't be complaining about their network connection to NYC, or doing much of anything else. The internet is only designed to route around damage at larger-than-blast-radius scales, and the affected area was actually quite small by those standards.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        This is what happens because the internet is designed to deal with nukes.


        This is common misunderstanding, so you have nothing to be ashamed of. Internet and Internet2 were first built for fast porn delivery, later military got interested and started using it for reliable porn delivery under nuclear attack.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by ronanbear (924575)
          You fool! The entire online porn industry is just a way to fund the NSA. What better way to ensure they have enough bandwidth and ability to shift lots of data than to control a huge chuck of it. When the time comes the porn will be the first thing they switch off to keep their access. This way they have a network backup operational and ready to operate at the flick of a switch.

          [/tinfoilhat]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lakeland (218447)
        I'm not sure you're right. Well, you are right about it being designed against nuclear attack, but I don't remember anything in DARPA being specific to smaller than nuclear?

        Everything is based around: "oops, that route is down, lets try another". That sure doesn't sound scale specific to me.
        I would hazard a guess that either: a) Internet2 isn't designed along the same goals or b) cost cutting has lead to a structure far more similar to a tree than a graph and nowadays a well targetted bomb could take out
        • by Jesus_666 (702802)
          As far as I know Internet2 isn't quite as big as the "regular" internet. Maybe there just aren't enough nodes (and thus routes) to allow for effective damage mitigation.
      • by dcam (615646)
        Yeah. Except for DNS, but nobody needs that.

        Wait...
      • by Secrity (742221)
        The internet was originally designed to deal with nukes. Now, the Internet is simply a commercial communications medium that has limited self healing capabilities. The corporations that own the Internet on the whole have built a robust national network, HOWEVER there are many areas that have limited or no alternate routing capability.

        The entire Internet2 network has very limited or no alternate routing capability.

        In and around many cities, fiber optic cables are concentrated into underground conduits and
      • If a nuke took out the Longfellow Bridge, Internet2 users in Boston wouldn't be complaining about their network connection to NYC, or doing much of anything else. The internet is only designed to route around damage at larger-than-blast-radius scales, and the affected area was actually quite small by those standards.

        You know what this means, then: homeless people, and other sources of minor disturbance, are actually a much greater threat to the stability of the Internet than previously realized.

        Clearly, we

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2007 @03:04AM (#18969323)

      take out the internet... what hope do we stand against nukes?
      No need for anything that elaborate, terrorists will just send a DMCA notice to ATDN/AT&T/GX/LVL3/Verizon/NTT/Qwest/SAVVIS/Sprint informing them that their core routers are caching the IPv6 address 09F9:1102:9D74:E35B:D841:56C5:6356:88C0 inside the routing tables.
  • Hmmm. (Score:5, Funny)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:37AM (#18968755)
    I wonder if there will be a new Internet protocol for protection against malicious smoking hackers.
    • Re:Hmmm. (Score:5, Funny)

      by deftcoder (1090261) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:19AM (#18969063)
      Is IPv6 flame-retardant?
      • by thc69 (98798)

        Is IPv6 flame-retardant?
        I'm sure that's written on the "Under penalty of law, do not remove" tag. Doesn't IPv6 have one of those?

        I bet the bum didn't bother reading the tag on the mattress before he flicked the cigarrette...or maybe someone removed it and should have gone to jail.
      • Is IPv6 flame-retardant?
        No, but the concept of web services is.
        Oh, wait...retardant , not -ed . First day, new eyes.
    • I wonder if there will be a new Internet protocol for protection against malicious smoking hackers.

      Wherever you see a user name "benson" the password will be "hedges", and vice versa.

  • by Jazzer_Techie (800432) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:40AM (#18968775)
    It apparently also knocked out normal service to MIT students living on the Boston side of the Charles. One of my friends called me around 9:20PM (an hour after the fire started) to see if my internet connection was down. Fortunately, I live on the Cambridge side (with the main campus) so I wasn't affected. Here's what MIT IS&T had to say.

    --
    Wed, May 2nd:
    Internet2 Service has been restored.
    We have re-routed our connectivity to the Verizon TLS service, so all ILG's should be back in service as of 01:47AM this morning.

    Tue, May 1st, 2007:
    There was a fire earlier this evening under the Longfellow Bridge, on the Boston side of the river. This fire appears to have destroyed electrical and communications conduits that run over the Longfellow, including fiber used by MIT and other Boston area institutions to connect to Internet2.

    MIT and other New England Schools are currently disconnected from Internet2. Traffic to Internet2 institutions is being routed via the Commodity Internet, but performance may be less then normal experienced.
    --
    They got things back going again in less than 6 hours, even though it started in the evening. Not too shabby.
    • See, there is a good reason why the Institute decided to keep all freshmen on campus. What would they have done without Net access that evening?
    • We had the same thing happen here at LSU last Spring semester. Someone had thrown a cigarette into a drain and caught some dry leaves on fire causing some serious fiber optics damage for most of the campus. But of course not on the scale as what happened in Boston. Luckily enough it was a small fire and happened on a Friday, so they got it fixed before Monday; so only us people in the dorms felt the effects of it :(. So I wonder if there is any kind of protection that could be used to help prevent thing
      • by MollyB (162595) *
        Do I read this correctly? Are fiber optic lines routed through storm drains? I had no idea...
        • A fire in a storm drain might very well heat up the surrounding earth sufficiently to damage fiber in nearby conduits.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by peragrin (659227)
            No they run them through storm drains. your phone, cable, and electrical company's do it all the time. At least for the larger trunk lines of the drains.
  • Firewall (Score:2, Funny)

    by Dude163299 (906461)
    Guess they forgot to install the firewall.
  • Homeless? (Score:5, Funny)

    by bulliver (774837) <bulliverNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:42AM (#18968789) Homepage

    It wasn't a homeless guy, it was a torch job paid for by Internet 1.

  • Level3? (Score:5, Funny)

    by BigDuke6_swe (899458) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:43AM (#18968791) Homepage
    Internet2, level3? What's level3?
    "Level 3 Communications cables used by the network went up in flames"
    "Level 3 engineers estimate it could take one to two days to restore the circuit"

    Taken out by a level 1 homeless person?
  • by Baricom (763970) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:45AM (#18968807)
    In other news, witnesses reported a spontaneous cheer coming from the corporate headquarters of the Recording Industry Association of America.
  • by Mish (50810) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:46AM (#18968817)
    Obviously the newly imposed mattress fire safety rules [consumeraffairs.com] just aren't working!
  • by scenestar (828656) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @01:48AM (#18968825) Homepage Journal
    Clearly the homeless are not only unsightfull to look at, they also pose a direct threat to homeland security by sabotaging our infrastructure.

    It seems clear that we must *eradicate* the homeless.

    (don't mod this a troll straight away)

  • by Genocaust (1031046) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:00AM (#18968909)
    Only YOU can prevent Internet fires!
  • Is the internet devolving or this is just my impression? Routing protocols? Redundancy? Multipath anyone?
    • by Yetihehe (971185)
      Funny how parent was modded redundant. BTW, there IS redundancy, TFA says they switched to other lines.
  • by ShagratTheTitleless (828134) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:09AM (#18968985)
    From the article: "The homeless man, whom authorities identified as one Kevin Rose, was apparently despondent after the recent shutdown of his tech news aggregation site. Witnesses reported seeing him staring into the flames and rocking slowly while mumbling a series of letters and numbers."
  • by c_jonescc (528041) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:11AM (#18969003)
    Sorry, but isn't a little absurd, and likely judgmental, to mention TWICE in the abstract that the fire was started by a homeless person?

    If the cig was tossed from a car window would we be hearing repeatedly about how a Toyota driver started this all?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by alzoron (210577)
      Something about this story is fishy. If they knew so many details about how the fire started, down to knowing it was a homeless smoker at precisely 8:20, why didn't anybody do anything to stop the fire. You don't just throw a cigarette and "boom" interweb 2.0 goes up in flames instantly. Sounds to me they don't really have a clue how the fire started past a mattress catching fire and just wanted to pin the blame on today's favorite evil... tobacco. Watch out folks, cigarettes kill the interweb! Secondh
    • by kripkenstein (913150) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @04:14AM (#18969645) Homepage

      Sorry, but isn't a little absurd, and likely judgmental, to mention TWICE in the abstract that the fire was started by a homeless person?
      I agree that twice looks a little suspicious (and how do they even know how the fire started?), but my guess is that they are trying to make it perfectly clear that it wasn't one of their own that caused the failure. That is, it wasn't a fire started by someone using Internet2, so they aren't directly to blame (but might be to blame for inadequate preparations for such events, I really don't know).
  • ...US Government brought down by chili farts. Pictures at eleven.
  • "Alright, if you don't care about killing yourself, quit smoking or you'll kill the Internet!"

    Might work.

  • smoke kills (Score:3, Funny)

    by dunkelfalke (91624) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:43AM (#18969215)
    smoke kills [antimult.ru]
  • by Glowing Fish (155236) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @02:49AM (#18969245) Homepage
    What are cigarettes, after all?

    They are tubes, a series of tubes...
  • by dj245 (732906) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @03:37AM (#18969467) Homepage
    I am reminded of This [slashdot.org]

    I remember voting backhoe.
  • Look Sharp (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kram175 (1096895)
    One if by land, Two if by sea, Three if by burning mattress under a bridge! Good thing the minute men (well, 6 hour men) were on the job. But seriously, what does this say about the vulnerability of our infrastructure? I mean, a homeless guy with a cigarette?
  • Firehose (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chiisu (462604) on Thursday May 03, 2007 @06:02AM (#18970167)
    No wonder Slashdot developed Firehose....
  • i know boston has a red line, i take it every day. i believe new york also uses colors. which red line is it? (TFA doesnt specify)
    • Considering the fire was on/under the Longfellow Bridge in Boston, which the MBTA red line goes across, I would assume that's the subway that got disrupted. If a fire in Boston can interrupt subway service in New York, that'd be a pretty impressive fire.
    • While NYC has a line which is represented by red numbers, it's not commonly refered to as "the Red Line." New Yorkers usually call it "the 1-2-3," "the West Side line," or "the Seventh Avenue line." The "Red Line" colloquialism is more likely to refer to Boston's one.
  • ...when a homeless man tossed a lit cigarette.
    What a tosser [english2american.com]!
  • by dheera (1003686)
    They should levy huge fines on people who improperly discard cigarettes and/or actually randomly decide to patrol parts of cities and cite people who drop cigarettes for littering. It's dangerous, filthy, bad for the environment, and makes cities just look bad.
  • If that is cyberpunk noire, I don't know what is.
  • Butts (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by magarity (164372)
    I really don't care that smokers don't care that their polluting their own lungs and homes, and if the smoke in the air bothers at a public venue me then I know to move myself somewhere else. The only reason cigarette smokers REALLY irritate me is that in general they don't care one bit where they toss the ^%$# cigarette butts. Streets, sidewalks, flowerbeds, and now even old mattresses... the country is completely littered with the nasty things. I demand that all cigarettes sold be unfiltered so the re
    • by Nimey (114278)
      It'll have the positive side effect of killing off the lusers a little faster, too.
  • So can anyone give me any reasonable explanation as to why smokers always seem to consider the world their ashtray? What is wrong with these people? I get so disgusted every day driving home from work as I see at least 3-4 smokers drop their lit cigarettes out of their cars. They don't seem to care that we routinely have "red flag" days (high risk of brush fires due to lack of rain), that we have had several brush fires started by fellow members of their club of morons, that their freakin' plastic (they
  • Seems like they are trying to make a point of that. I just can't figure out what it is.

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