Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems

From the article: "The Internet solves problems for individuals as well as at the societal level. As we seek to address society’s most pressing issues—such as climate change, for instance—we are building increasingly complex infrastructures, including next generation transportation systems and the smart grid. These complex systems rely heavily on digital technologies that connect systems and organize the flow of data between and among them.

Most of the time, this high level of interconnection is purposeful, and in fact helpful. Sometimes, however, we can take this interconnection too far, without thinking through its consequences. Security and privacy risks are the most common problems that flow from unchecked levels of interoperability. Worse still, the most highly interconnected systems, such as the international financial system, can give rise to catastrophic domino effects. Whether the instrument is complex derivatives gone bad or computer malware, harm can flow across highly interconnected systems and cause knock-on effects far from where the initial harm occurred." Read more