Measuring the Fragility of Internet Access Networks

February 24, 2022
3:00-4:00pm ET
Cummings 601, Zoom
Speaker: Alexander Marder
Host: Dan Votipka


On December 25, 2020, a bomb exploded in downtown Nashville, TN that exposed critical weaknesses in U.S. Internet infrastructure deployments. The explosion damaged a single network facility, but disconnected an entire Internet access network covering Nashville and Middle Tennessee. The outage revealed a single point of failure for the Nashville access network, but state of the art network measurement tools were insufficient to identify other weaknesses in access network infrastructure around the country.

This talk will explore independently evaluating the resilience and security of the access network infrastructure in the U.S. First, I will present recent advances in empirical Internet measurements that allow academics and policymakers to examine these increasingly critical, but opaque, networks. Second, I will analyze the resilience of the access network infrastructure to common failure modes, finding that although much of the infrastructure is robust, single points of failure exist throughout the country. Finally, I will discuss the potential for intentional attacks against the infrastructure, showing that an attacker can gain sufficient knowledge of the access networks to induce outages in neighborhoods, cities, or entire states without any insider information.


Alex Marder is an assistant research scientist at UC San Diego’s Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA). Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral fellow at UC San Diego/CAIDA, mentored by Kimberly Claffy and Alex C. Snoeren. He obtained his PhD from The University of Pennsylvania, where he was advised by Jonathan M. Smith. His research focuses on using empirical measurements to evaluate the security, resilience, and performance of the Internet.

Join meeting in Cummings 601 or via Zoom:

Meeting ID: 971 8312 0811

Password: See colloquium email

Dial by your location: +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)

Meeting ID: 971 8312 0811

Passcode: See colloquium email.