Can the internet go down?


Danny Hillis talks about a backup plan for the internet, and on the face of it — the idea sounds absurd. Why would anyone have a backup plan for the internet? There isn’t a single IT project worth it’s salt that would register the entire internet failing as a risk, the internet after all was built as a decentralized communications medium that couldn’t be taken down with a single hit on a command center–the internet can sure take a pounding and so far no single act of nature has manage to make a dent–no earthquake, no tsunami, no nothing!

I’m not just talking about just Google failing here, I’m talking about the ENTIRE INTERNET failing!

The events in the pas has made me ponder, we’ve seen how Pakistan ‘accidentally’ managed to take down youtube for several hours worldwide back in 2008, and just recently the world witness a global battle between Spamhaus and Cyberbunker. If a hosting company and a non-profit organization can threaten internet connectivity in Europe–what would become of the internet if countries went to War on it? Think of the ‘Mother of all DDOS attacks’.

This isn’t as far fetched as you might think–there are already political lines being drawn on the internet.

Put that together with the researchers who managed to map the internet–by hacking nearly 100,000 vulnerable routers and suddenly the internet doesn’t seem all that invulnerable as you once imagined. Ethical considerations aside, we’ll need to one day evaluate and address the very real possibility that the internet can (and probably WILL) go down one day–and where will we be?

Your phone runs on the internet these days, your house alarm runs on the internet, without the internet government services couldn’t operate and banks probably wouldn’t be able to run (do you really think ATMs have physical leased lines back to HQ)? In fact, when was the last time anybody used a physical lease line–at some point in the routing of our devices–something uses the internet.

The question then becomes–what happens when it goes down?

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