Networking and Telecommunication Management

"The AT&T long-distance networks crashes and millions of calls go unanswered. A computer hacker reprograms a switching station and calls to a Florida probation office are shunted to a New York phone-sex hotline. An illegal computer bulletin board publishes a pilfered BellSouth document on the 911 emergency system, which made it available to anyone who dials up". The above incidents are described in Bruce Sterling’s book "The Hacker Crackdown, Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier, copyrighted in 1992. Bruce Sterling authored this book which seeks to explain the "people of cyberspace".

Bruce Sterling digs into the bizarre world of electronic communications. The world of electronic communication or cyberspace has no physical location, because it exists only in the network. Cyberspace is not normal space; it is the space on your computers. Mr. Sterling writes about electronic communication in the early 90’s between computers and telephone lines. The space that Mr. Sterling speaks of is about 130 years old. The current cyberspace is where a telephone conversation occurs. You may think you are conversing into a phone line, the device in your hand against your ear. No, not really, but it’s the place between the phones, ‘yes, the indefinite space out there’. Sterling attempts to inform, compel and appall his readers, the hackers, law officers and civil libertarians.

In the 1990, a nationwide legal battle took place against computer hackers, yes criminal charges all across the United States. The Secret Service, telephone company security and state and local law enforcement agencies across the country joined to bring down the U. S. underground electronic coup. While the underground and legal computer community fought strongly against the same agencies who threaten their electronic civil liberties.

Mr. Sterling gave the reader the fact surrounding the AT&T long distance telephone switching system crash on January 15, 1990. Roughly 60,000 customers lost service for approximately nine hours and 70 million calls went uncompleted! What happen to the contingency plan? The crashes in the early 90’s occurred with no physical reasoning. There was no apparent damage, but the problem spread and spread. There was station after station across the United States that collapsed like dominoes, until half of AT&T network went amuck and the other half was put to the test. The AT&T software engineers knew what caused the crashed in the system, yes; the crash was a grave corporate embarrassment. It was a bug in AT&T own software code, not the thing that a board members wanted to hear with competition being as fierce as it was. It was easier to believe that some evil person or hacker had done it, a virus, a Trojan horse or a software bomb placed in the network. In July 91, BellSouth had a similar crash in their computer software which disrupted the Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and San Francisco areas, 12 million folks were affected by this crash. Executives of the phone company didn’t want to rule out hackers’ involvement but experience from the previous year leaned toward software error. Sure enough, the Software Company from Plano, Texas owned up to the glitches in the "signal transfer point" that were assigned to Bell Atlantic and Pacific Bell. The real problem was a mistyped character, in a single line of code, which ultimately deprives the capitol of phone service. Mr. Sterling again proves that the cyberspace and the folks involved in it are no longer unprecedented, nor it is not odd at all to experience phone system crashes. Software built by human has flaws even if no one tampers with the codes.

I can remember that day in January 1990, I tried to call my mom, because it was her birthday, how in despair I felt when I couldn’t get through, imagine all the folks who had important calls that day also. But the irony of the situation was even transparent to me. I was totally oblivious about what cause the delay. Like many, we thought that the phone just wasn’t working, not that there was a bug running rampantly throughout AT&T network. Well, I had been snowed like million of other phone users. The law enforcement officials and the telephone corporate security personnel were not, nor were they totally persuaded that the software glitch was not that of hackers. Their informants