Life After the Internet Apocalypse: No Food, No Communication, No Money
Much of what we do today revolves around the internet and the use of it. It is embedded with how we work, how we communicate with one another, and now, how we operate items within our homes and cars.
The internet is a robust mechanism. It is a network made up of a lot of other computer networks that spans the entire globe. Its connections cross over continents, under oceans, and through space by satellites. But what would happen if the internet were to collapse?
Ways the Internet can be taken down
It’s hard to imagine something as grand as the internet to be shut down. However, it is not impossible.
A cyberattack is one way for the internet to crash. Hackers could bring the internet to a halt by releasing software that exposes vulnerabilities in routers which navigate web traffic and where that traffic goes. Another tactic would be shutting down domain name servers which would cause huge interruptions like preventing websites from loading.
Clipping internet cables under the sea that also distribute large amounts of internet traffic could also cause issues by disconnecting users across the world. Although it is one of the harder possibilities for intruders, these cables can be damaged. In 2008, parts of the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia suffered major internet outages when submarine cables were accidentally damaged by a ship.
“Kill switches” are another way the internet can be taken down by national governments. Countries like Egypt, Turkey, and Iran have done this during protest rallies to make coordination more difficult. American senators have also mentioned the idea of having a “kill switch” created in the US for defense against large cyberattacks.
Yet, this tactic poses large difficulties as well. With developed countries like the US, there are too many connections and networks both inside and outside the nation’s borders. It would take a very long time to capture each one.
The last and most impactful way the internet could be taken down is from space. Outside of missile attacks from rival countries, large solar flares sent in the earth’s direction would take out satellites, power grids, and computer systems.
Effects of an Internet Outage
The internet going dead would cause major ripple effects within the food supply industry. Many of the major grocery companies monitoring systems work off internet databases, and if it is down there is no way to keep track of food supply and delivery, and eventually store shelves would go empty.
Collapse of Communication
Without the internet, we would no longer have access to news or immediate information about what is happening around the world. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat would be lost and its users would have to resort to others ways to connect with friends or loved ones. The next to be hit would be the telecommunication services due to user overload and with the internet being down, carrier services and data networks would eventually fail leaving only landlines.
According to the US Health Department, about 50.8 percent of American households are now wireless, 39.4 percent having both a wireless phone and a landline, and only 6.5 percent of homes only having a landline. Landline usage is expected to drop even more with companies working to cut the cord with wireless internet service providers.
Major corporations and institutions rely heavily on the internet and its capabilities. Banks would face major backlogs due to ATM failures, along with checks and money transfers having to be done manually. Online banking would go down and there would be no PayPal or Visa purchases. The stock market would also become inoperable due to the internet outage.
Big businesses would face turmoil. Websites would no longer exist and seamless tasks like ordering supplies and managing databases or orders would be seized. Access to important documents and data would be lost, and companies like Google and Amazon would become obsolete.
A Glimmer of Hope
The internet is ingrained within our everyday lives and even the slightest disruption would have an effect. “There’s an army of people ready to put things right,” says Scott Borg at the United States Cyber Consequences Unit, a non-profit research institute. Borg states that internet providers and companies have plans, people, and processes in place in the event of a major internet outage to ensure we never see a world without the internet.
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