Scientists Spot Net\'s Achilles Heel


Internet Week has a cool Story on how weak the internet may be. The trouble lies in relying on a couple large nodes that handle a significant amount of the traffic. The web isn\'t as webbed as we thought.

\"``The reason this is so is because there are a couple of very big nodes and all messages are going through them. But if someone maliciously takes down the biggest nodes you can harm the system in incredible ways. You can very easily destroy the function of the Internet,\'\' Albert-Lazlo Barabasi, a structural physicist, said in a telephone interview. \"``That\'s exactly the situation on the Internet: there are a couple of hubs that are crucial to the system,\'\' he explained.

These big hubs or nodes control the traffic in the system.

If the Internet hubs are taken out simultaneously there would be a serious problem but Barabasi said the probability of random errors hitting the big nodes is very small.

In a commentary on the research, Yuhai Tu of the IBM TJ Watson Research Center in New York said the research is a first step towards understanding the robustness of the Internet.

``The good news is that we do not have to worry about random fluctuations of these networks. The bad news is that Internet terrorists could cause great damage by targeting the most connected router,\'\' he said.

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