We live in a modern world supported by large, complex networks. Examples range from financial markets to communication and transportation systems. In many realistic situations the flow of physical quantities in the network, as characterized by the loads on nodes, is important. We show that for such networks where loads can redistribute among the nodes, intentional attacks can lead to a cascade of overload failures, which can in turn cause the entire or a substantial part of the network to collapse. This is relevant for real-world networks that possess a highly heterogeneous distribution of loads, such as the Internet and power grids. We demonstrate that the heterogeneity of these networks makes them particularly vulnerable to attacks in that a large-scale cascade may be triggered by disabling a single key node. This brings obvious concerns on the security of such systems.
|Number of pages
|Physical Review E - Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics
|Published - Dec 20 2002
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Statistics and Probability
- Condensed Matter Physics