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(NECN: Ted McEnroe) - One of the best weapons against H1N1 (swine) flu could be the victim if millions of Americans try to work from home to avoid getting ill, according to a new report. Here's the issue - if there's an outbreak of H1N1 in your office - people there might decide to stay home and telecommute. Get the work done - without getting sick, right? <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/27/AR2009102703743.html?wprss=rss_technology">As Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post notes</a>, it's not that simple. If enough people decide to telecommute, the Government Accountability Office says those telecommuters could stretch the Internet infrastructure to the brink. The GAO says that if the flu becomes widespread, all those telecommuters, added to the usual array of folks accessing the web to watch videos and so on could bog down local networks. <a href="http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-8">Here's the GAO's 77-page report.</a> The reason, when you think about it, makes sense. When you're at work, your data usually moves through your corporate IT network in a more or less closed system. But if you're accessing that work from home, all that data needs to get piped through the internet to get to your remote computer. And that's a lot of extra traffic. Making the problem more difficult, the GAO says it's not sure the federal government is prepared to deal with the problem. The GAO notes that the Department of Homeland Security is in charge of communications networks during crisis, but finds that the DHS doesn't really have a plan for this scenario. And your local providers could be in a bind. In theory, they could add bandwidth capacity or lay down private lines for essential workers, but that is expensive and would take too long. But they can't really put the squeeze on individual sites or give some traffic priority, the GAO notes, without possibly running into technical or regulatory issues. (Who gets to decide which traffic matters most?) The report was initially requested by Congressional committees looking into the effects of H1N1 on the financial markets - the good news <em>there</em> is that the GAO found securities exchanges and clearinghouses were in good shape because they have proprietary networks. But there are questions of how well they are prepared if a sizable percentage of their staff gets sick.