FryUp: Outage Outrage, Cryptography Blues

Top Stories: - Out, out damned outage - Cryptographers say the darnedest things

Top Stories:

- Out, out damned outage

- Cryptographers say the darnedest things

- Out, out damned outage

Both TelstraClear and Xtra have had a wee hiccup this week - both of them put in the shade by a knock-out outage in one of the world's top hospitals.

Xtra upgraded software on its IP.Net product range, found it didn't work and bailed out as quickly as it could. All told the system was down for some users in Auckland and the South Island for around four hours - mostly the customers affected were those using a certain type of scripting so it wasn't a widespread booboo.

TelstraClear, however, had a double whammy. First, a major network switch failed on Sunday and a back-up didn't kick in as it should have. Then when a replacement switch was installed, it too failed and caused a cascade of problems that kept the network out of action for several hours.

While the failures only affected a handful of customers each, in TelstraClear's case that handful included other ISPs as well as Domainz and its name servers, the roadmap to the .nz name space. Fortunately Domainz has redundancy across several ISPs and telco networks, so wasn't unduly affected. However some of the ISPs and their customers were less then impressed.

It's a tricky business - multiple redundancy costs and that gets passed on to you know who. In the instance of TelstraClear's problem, it's not like they didn't have more than one switch in place - but when the back-up fails as well what are you going to do?

Spare a thought then for the doctors and nurses (and patients) at the Beth Israel Deaconess hospital campus in Boston. A network outage there that lasted for several days meant staff had to revert to a paper-based back-up system that hadn't been used in six years.

I suppose it's good there was a back-up system but shouldn't it be tested a little more regularly than that?

The hospital is about to spend US$3 million on duplicating its entire network so this shouldn't happen again. Apparently senior managers were called in to act as paper runners around the building. That tends to encourage a spend-up I find.

How ironic that as I'm writing this, the entire IDG Communications infrastructure is off the air. No email, no website, no database access. Still, it gives me something to write about I suppose. Pity nobody can see it!

Multiple outages knock users offline over weekend - IDGNet

Outage 'harpoons' TelstraClear convert - IDGNet

TelstraClear's woes continue - NZ Herald

Got paper? - Boston Globe

- Cryptographers say the darnedest things

One of the largest cryptography conferences to be held this year is about to start in Queenstown, but sadly with only around half the expected number of attendees.

Why are they staying away in droves? The convenor, associate professor Hank Wolfe from Otago University, believes it's down to war talk coming from the White House scaring attendees away.

In fact, Wolfe takes it one step further, referring to "that lunatic" in the White House and, coming from someone I always considered to be a conservative upstanding member of society, and an American to boot, that's serious stuff.

Wolfe's been in the news on and off over the years since he came to New Zealand around 20 years ago. He even wrote a column for IDG Communications once upon a time.

Wolfe's career has also included teaching, of course, with such luminaries as Jay Garden, now head of the government's Centre for Critical Infrastructure Protection, as a past pupil. He's also worked with police in an attempt to break encryption on a laptop but he's not allowed to talk about that any more. Forget I mentioned it.

The conference itself should be interesting. Cryptographers aren't usually found in clumps, preferring to hide out in ones or twos and to communicate solely through email, secured of course. Conference papers include the astonishingly named "Adapting the weaknesses of the random oracle model to the generic group model" and "A statistically-hiding integer commitment scheme based on groups with hidden order".

Those attending, around 140 from all corners of the globe, are some of the brightest minds in cryptography today and it should make for an interesting conference.

AsiaCrypt 2002

Top international cryptography conference in Queenstown - IDGNet

AsiaCrypt attendees down due to US war talk - IDGNet

Cryptologists claim weakness in new US system - Stuff

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