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The Verge | 10.24.16

The internet apocalypse map hides the major vulnerability that created it

Ingrid Burrington

D&S artist-in-residence Ingrid Burrington analyzes the infrastructure factor of the Oct. 21 internet outage.

The locations of internet exchanges tend to follow population hubs because the routes of internet connectivity often follow older routes of telephone connectivity (which themselves often follow telegraph routes, railways, and highways). In turn, internet exchanges attract data centers and more network infrastructure. For dense coastal areas, some internet exchanges are also key switch points for data traveling across transoceanic submarine cables, as in the case of Manhattan’s 60 Hudson Street or Los Angeles’ One Wilshire. In all likelihood, devices used for Friday’s DDoS attack located across the Atlantic or Pacific probably passed through or possibly connected to Dyn’s network through these buildings.

That being said, some of the overlaps between population centers and network outages are more a reflection of the number of connections in an area than the number of humans living there. The Portland, Oregon metro area has six IXes. So does Manhattan, which is surrounded by nine additional IXes in the surrounding metro areas of New Jersey and Long Island. Dallas, Silicon Valley, and Seattle were all areas that were subsumed by the grim red cloud of No Tweets For You in outage maps yesterday.

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