Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No Internet, no problem?

PC World has a good article in response to the Egypt situation.

Does your government have an Internet kill-switch? Read our guide to Guerrilla Networking and be prepared for when the lines get cut.

Hams should give it a read as they are talking about Do-It-Yourself Internet With Ad-Hoc Wi-Fi / Mesh Networks.

The guys over at Noisebridge were the first to point out that another good reason hams should be building mesh networks is because of proposed internet kill switch bill.

Simultaneously, the United States is debating a bill to create an Internet kill switch, also known as the PCNAA bill. For true redundancy, a non-critical network can and should be built by the amateur service to avoid this single point of failure.

Some 10-20 years ago there were many private networks for automated teller machines, telephone, merchant credit card verification and so forth. Now most of this all happens over the internet. If there were some sort of major internet outage or attack, many day-to-day things would be interrupted.

Simply put, I'm pretty sure there would be major commerce and stock market effects. I have a hard time fathoming what would constitute a national cyber emergency, that would be worth those kind of side effects.

At the same time many ham radio systems use the internet for wormhole-like connectivity. APRS, WinLink, D-Star, IRLP, Echolink and so forth. An emphasis on building our own backbone and infrastructure is just simply not there. This leaves vulnerabilities in our emergency communications reliability.

There are some unknown vulnerabilities in the upcoming switch to IPV6, such as distributed denial of service attacks on IPv4 to IPv6 gateways. As well as root nameservers, and core internet routing.

The need for Speed and Digital Networks

Nearly 10 years ago a survey conducted by the ARRL Technology Task Force, of League members and other amateurs revealed that the number one interest in new technologies was in high-speed digital networks. Amateur radio, particularly EmComm (this was just after 911), needed some means of data transmission significantly faster than conventional packet radio.

Winlink is severely limited in capabilities and doesn't necessarily even conform to Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards. As the population in urban cities grows so does communications. Have you ever thought how long it would take to covey even just 300 messages that loved ones are okay over such an antiquated medium?

If you still need more reasons to explore these wide-band modes, consider the fact that 99% of available amateur allocations go virtually unused.

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