Internet users in Vietnam and around the world may experience network connection failures within next 48 hours as the main domain servers and related infrastructure controlling the web will be powered down for some time.
Let us imagine that on one dark, stormy night, Facebook goes down, you cannot read the news on https://vietnaminsider.vn or any other news site in the world for an hour. You might think that this wouldn’t be much of a big deal, since it’s merely a social network that enables pictures of cats and selfies to go viral.
According to a report on RT.COM, the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is responsible for maintaining the registry of domain names and IP addresses, will be changing the cryptographic key that helps protect the Domain Name System (DNS) or the internet’s address book.
It’s an important measure to ensure a secure, stable, and resilient DNS, according to the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA).
“To further clarify, some internet users might be affected if their network operators or Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have not prepared for this change. However, this impact can be avoided by enabling the appropriate system security extensions,” said the report.
Analyst from the Mobile Research Group Eldar Murtazin explained that internet users may face some difficulties within 48 hours. There may be problems with access to some resources, and slow loading of internet pages. Some users may have problems with access to the network if they use an outdated provider.
ICANN has already carried out some preliminary tests that showed the key replacement process would create minimal problems.
Arseny Shcheltsin, a specialist in digital economics, reassured people that there is nothing to fear, since the main software has already been successfully updated.
The procedure for changing cryptographic keys has become necessary as a result of rising threats for the internet infrastructure.
Unthinkable? The Internet Could Crash, And Here’s How
Defining What ‘Crash’ Means
There are two possible levels of severity in this type of scenario.
- The first level would concern a situation in which an entire hemisphere is no longer able to connect server-to-server. This failure would wipe out all fundamental utilities and primary, continental Internet data highways.
- In the second (and even worse scenario), every person in the world attempting to access any site on the Internet would receive nothing more than an error message.
Can such unthinkable scenarios occur?
Electromagnetic Pulse Weapon
How do you stop a million-ton moving train? Easy. Remove the tracks. Sure, the wreckage afterward won’t be pretty, but the train in question is no longer in motion.
To its core, this is what an electromagnetic pulse weapon (EMP) could do to the Internet. However, the EMP would need an extremely wide radius of effect in the thousands of miles, since the web is much like a self-healing and adaptive organism. Nationwide connection speeds might become noticeably slower if a ground-based EMP were detonated. However just because one regional network goes down doesn’t mean that this data can’t traverse other nodes within the larger, continental network.
It’s Weather … From Space
An EMP-type energy wave also could be unleashed upon the world from space. If the entire earth were to sustain a direct hit from an X-class solar flare, such as the kind experienced during the Carrington Event, then this too would effectively crash the Internet with global annihilation potential.
There are two peculiarly sobering ramifications to this 2013 cyberattack that we need to consider if this were truly the work of Assad’s digital strike team.
- This pro-Syrian group of hackers was being funded by a beaten and broken Middle Eastern regime and likely possessed limited resources in comparison to a government with the capability to wage a conventional war, such as North Korea.
- It took several months for penetration analysts to determine the source of these attacks, meaning that if a cyberattack were more effectively coordinated and funded, then the total destabilization of the Internet could occur without warning or recognition of a threat.
There’s another major reason why we can say (with an uncomfortably high level of certainty) that widespread Internet access can, in fact, be cut off by a government. It’s due to the fact that governments have openly discussed their own capability to do just that. In June 2010, a proposed bill almost gave the Oval Office powers to throw the “kill switch” in the event of a national crisis, according to CNN. The bill, known as the “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act” (PCNAA), sought to give the President “emergency authority to shut down private sector or government networks in the event of a cyberattack capable of causing massive damage or loss of life.”
If the Cable Were Cut
According to the above CNN article, some analysts also have pinned an instance of Internet outage to a benevolently oblivious ship that was merely dragging its anchor on the ocean floor. It was thought that the ship had severed a major deep sea data cable by doing so. This story was proven wrong, however. To this day no one seems to know who or what cut that cable. This also presents us with yet another HUGE vulnerability.
Tyranny’s Info Vacuum
Since these vulnerabilities exist, a government could easily take an axe to its own data highways and hubs. Until then, any takeover attempt by some subversive tyrannical entity would show up on Twitter before the first political dissenter could give a good, hearty belly laugh when black ski masks show up at the door.
That’s why tyranny can only survive in an information vacuum.
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