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Assessing risk for network resilience

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Abstract

Communication networks and the Internet, in particular, have become a critical infrastructure for daily life, business and governance. Various challenging conditions can render networks or parts thereof unusable, with severe consequences. Protecting a network from all possible challenges is infeasible because of monetary, hardware and software constraints. Hence, a methodology to measure the risk imposed by the various challenges threatening the system is a necessity. In this paper, we present a risk assessment process to identify the challenges with the highest potential impact to a network and its users. The result of this process is a prioritised list of challenges and associated system faults, which can guide network engineers towards the mechanisms that have to be built into the network to ensure network resilience, whilst meeting cost constraints. Furthermore, we discuss how outcomes from the intermediate steps of our risk assessment process can be used to inform network resilience design. A better understanding of these aspects and a way to determine reliable measures are open issues, and represent important new research items in the context of resilient and survivable networks.