How to destroy Internet

Started by rafiazafar, Sep 28, 2022, 10:00 AM

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Remember the threat of anonymous to destroy the Internet? Where did the hаcker threaten to "put" 16 root DNS servers on the Internet and make it impossible to obtain information by means of a request using a domain name? As a result, anyone who enters " " or some other URL, will get an error page, which would make most users think that the Internet is not working.

In the view of a modern person who is poorly connected with IT, the Internet is Wi—Fi, and few people think that most of the Internet is located underwater and in general about how much data is transmitted through that underwater network of trunk channels, which, although redundant, is quite vulnerable and can be at one point destroyed physically. For a better understanding of the problem, I recommend reading the article: Messages in depth: the amazing history of the underwater Internet. In the same article, we will consider the likely points of failure, despite the fact that the Internet network is decentralized and it is considered that it is completely impossible to turn it off and assume a situation in which the network will cease to function completely.

First of all, I want to clarify that we do not urge anyone to take any destructive actions, but only consider the possibility of a network failure as a result of the destruction of any of its components.

Destruction of underwater highways

All information about underwater highways is publicly available on the TeleGeography web site. As well as about major incidents related to their damage. So, in addition to the troubles described in the article above, there were several major incidents related to earthquakes and tsunamis, when a significant part of the highways were damaged immediately. Nevertheless, even when Japan was hit by a tsunami and most of the highways were damaged, communication did not completely stop, since there were still satellite channels that provided accessibility to the region, although there was a noticeable deterioration in speed and quality due to network congestion.

The Internet is not only a virtual, but also a physical space, and the cables that transmit the signal play a crucial role and are, in fact, one of the vulnerabilities. Perhaps that was well described by Andrew Bloom in one of his videos, when he said that the squirrel that destroyed the Internet for him made him think about the network as a whole and about the problem deeper.

And Andrew, perhaps, noted one of the most important vulnerabilities of the Internet — the concentration of reference communication nodes. As you can see from the map — there are several main points of concentration, in particular underwater highways. And serious harm, most likely, can be caused not so much by a natural cataclysm that damaged the highways on the ocean floor, as by the destruction of the network at the anchor points.

If the cables are under water, it is not difficult to figure out that there are entry and exit points on the shores of the oceans. And although many private companies try to keep the coordinates of these points secret, very often nature has a different opinion and underwater highways are discovered over time just lying on the sand:

Of course, they were once camouflaged and partially buried, but apparently not well enough and deep enough, especially in unpopulated regions. But even when the cable is well hidden, it is possible to find it — it is enough to use a minesweeper and look for it at depths of 50-200 meters along the coast. By the way, there is no need to search, sometimes as a result of uncontrolled navigation in the areas of cable occurrence, minesweepers cause quite serious damage to underwater highways. So the question of finding the cable is actually not as difficult as it seems, as is the question of its damage. Despite the fact that the cable consists of many protective layers, it is easy to cut it with a hаcksaw. The most difficult part of the cable is likely to be the polycarbonate sleeve, everything else, I think, will be easily amenable even to an axe.

Although the exact location of many cables and their ground support stations is kept secret by private corporate owners, many of them are, in fact, located on popular beaches of bustling cities. There are several cable "spots" on the map that, according to TeleGeography, would be the most destructive if these points were destroyed. The defeat of such nodes will not only slow down access to the network, but also to the unavailability of many sites. Some of web sites on the opposite side of the ocean would be inaccessible, and many others would work very slowly, which would make them unusable. The damage would be substantial.

Such objects are the most important points of the world's network infrastructure. Of course, there are also inclusions towards South America, which is connected to Western Europe by a direct link, as well as communication through the west and inclusion via satellites. Nevertheless, it will be somewhat problematic to instantly redirect large volumes of traffic through these links, since the highways belong to different providers and you need to have agreements. That is why the situation when Skype communication across the ocean or sending e-mail becomes unavailable for some time, when tweets from the Middle East will get stuck there — is quite real.

Other strong points of the Internet network are located in the following locations:

Egypt (both the Middle Eastern part and on the Red Sea)
Great Britain
Hong Kong
South Florida

If suddenly all these key nodes become unavailable at the same time, it is unlikely that the Internet will be able to function normally. The Internet will not be the Internet, but rather a set of Intranets, since there will be no global connection between different network segments. Of course, we should not forget about the ability of the network to recover, it is enormous. Therefore, if the nodes have a problem in turn — it is likely that while all will be disabled — the initial nodes will already be in operation again and a big problem can only be in case of simultaneous unavailability.

And such an event is quite real. And it will not be about human intervention. Here we are talking about the Sun — the star that gave us life and on which we are extremely dependent.

Solar storms

The physics of the Sun is quite complex, but it is not difficult to understand the essence of the influence of a solar storm. A solar flare is sometimes followed by a so-called solar storm, where the coronal mass ejection from the surface of the Sun follows the same path from the surface of the Sun as the preceding flare. To begin with, let's consider the Sun in the H-alpha filter and the model of the Earth's magnetosphere:

Solar activity is cyclical, the full cycle is 22 years (the Hale cycle), when the state of the Sun's magnetic field returns to its original state. Accordingly, global coronal mass ejections and the most powerful solar flares can be observed near the end of the 11-year growth cycle, at the moments of maximum solar activity. It is noteworthy that the substance is distributed along the magnetic field lines, which is clearly visible in the H-alpha filter.

When a solar flare occurs and a large coronal mass ejection occurs, the magnetic field around the Sun is unable to hold it and part of the substance rushes away rapidly, filling the flow of the solar wind and increasing the concentration of particles, including particles with significantly greater mass and energy. Every second the Sun loses over a million tons of matter, and at the moments of coronal emissions — tens of billions of tons.
The speed of the solar wind is 300-1300 km / s, depending on the mass of particles and energy, and therefore the Earth has a significant concentration of ionized plasma within 2-3 days. At the same time, light from the Sun travels 149,897,870 km (the average distance from the Earth to the Sun) in just 8 minutes and 17 seconds, which can give time for preparation, since the Sun is carefully monitored these days. In particular, with the help of space solar observatories, including SOHO (Solare and Helioshperic Observatory), launched in 1995 and which has already cost over 1 billion euros. Interestingly, the mission was originally planned for 2-3 years, but it has been going on for over 20 years and was extended 2 years ago until December 2018, since it is now extremely important to predict coronal mass ejections and make forecasts of their reaching the Earth.

When the Earth is unlucky and it finds itself in the path of the flow of that ionized substance, it hits the lines of force of the Earth's magnetosphere and magnetic storms arise. The nature of a magnetic storm lies in the interaction of particles from the ejection stream with the radiation belts of the Earth, in which they accumulate, being held by a magnetic field, forming currents, which in turn lead to the appearance of magnetic fields in places where particles accumulate, causing disturbances in the Earth's magnetosphere.
These disturbances can last for several days and with sufficient intensity of the flow, the magnetic "shield" of the planet can be destroyed by them so much that induction currents can occur in all conducted metals, first of all it can affect communication satellites and even equipment on the Earth's surface.

The threat is so real that Lloyds of London publishes risk assessment reports for North America. So in 1859 there was a storm known as the Carrington event. It was so powerful that it could destroy the entire energy system of the Earth as a whole, if such a system existed then. Currents arose in the wires of the telegraph message, as a result of which the telegraph communication was completely disabled, both in Europe and in the USA.
During that outbreak, 22 times more energy was released than when the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs fell — about 10 to 25 degrees of joules (10 yottajoules), and the substance reached the Earth's magnetosphere within a record 18 hours. The outburst was moving so fast because the previous outbursts observed between August 28 and September 1 cleared the way for it. The Northern Lights were then observed all over the Earth, even in the Caribbean, and gold miners near the Rocky Mountains began to cook breakfast in the middle of the night, thinking that morning had come. According to statistics, such events occur once every half a thousand years.

Recently, evidence was found that in 754 AD there was another 23 times more powerful outbreak, which could lead in our time not only to the complete destruction of the power grid and data on current-carrying storage devices, but also to a 22% decrease in the ozone layer. The probability of such an outbreak is estimated at 1 event for 1256 years.

Nowadays, a solar storm of orders of magnitude lower intensity in 1989 led to a big problem in the power grids of Canada, causing currents in expensive transformers, which then needed to be replaced as soon as possible. And in 2011, the substance ejected as a result of the flare could cause serious problems when interacting with the Earth's magnetosphere, but fortunately it passed 9 days into the Earth's orbit, which is very close, by cosmic standards.

Conclusion — we make backups. And tape libraries and other magnetic media, as well as drives containing conductive elements and functioning on the basis of conductivity, are unlikely to be suitable without special protection. Optical disks are probably still the most durable and reliable form of storage.

Data centers, network participants and communications

Of course, the Internet is not only a network connection, but also the participants of that network. Most of the data is still stored not on personal gadgets, but in data centers. There aren't that many of them. A total of 4753 pieces in 124 countries of the world: the data is here. Some of them are the most important nodes of the network, as traffic exchange points and communication management systems are installed there.
The same 14 root servers of the DNS system, which are numbered with letters from A to M and are located in 13 data centers, have about 200 mirrors, that is, they are located on 300 objects, which the hаckers who threatened to put the network forgot about. But there are much fewer communication control points. Some of the traffic exchange points and control points of trunk channels are located only within one or two objects.

We all know the famous AMS-IX, a traffic exchange point in Amsterdam, one of the largest Internet hubs in Europe, she lives in the EvoSwitch data center, where we provide Dell R730xd servers for rent for not very corporate and very corporate clients. But few people remember that Amsterdam is below sea level, and although the EvoSwitch data center is more than a meter above the Earth's surface, flooding is possible, and in that case, global Internet problems in Europe.

Nevertheless, the chance of damage to the switching equipment as a result of the global virus is much higher, which can lead to more significant network problems and unavailability in general. But it is worth recognizing that only nature is capable of destroying the Internet completely.

Although, many people are seriously afraid of censorship. Nevertheless, all attempts to ban have never been crowned with success, with the exception of North Korea. Where embassies began distributing Wi-Fi to the population, after which Wi-Fi was banned even on the territory of embassies.

The Internet will be left in ruins without cables and data centers. Intra-networks that survived the cataclysm and were orphaned around the world will not be able to exchange data with each other.
But if we don't die from the shock that all the cats on YouTube and Instagram have disappeared, then after a while we will be able to restore everything, we will fill in petabytes of pоrnography again, and Google will index it all again. It is possible to crush the Internet, but its idea can only be killed together with modern humanity.


Question to the engineers. How can I make a magneto protection for the most important backups on HDD capable of protecting data from erasure by EM pulse as described in the topic?
It occurs to me to assemble a box made of thick steel.
Who can give approximate calculations of the thickness of the case and the brand of the required material?


I think the problem is too exaggerated. It is enough to DISCONNECT all external wires longer than 35 centimeters from the drive.
Otherwise, during thunderstorms, even drives disconnected from anything at all would die in packs. I don't think that a magnetic storm in terms of energy density can be stronger than a local thunderstorm, for instance.
There the scale plays, the leads are on long lines like telegraph lines and other things that form huge electrical circuits.
Therefore, the drive should be stored away from power and even signal lines, where secondary induced fields can form.


You have greatly exaggerated the colors with EM disturbances from the solar wind.
Any reinforced concrete building is a Faraday cage, and qualitatively grounded, a building made of monolithic reinforced concrete is noticeably better in this respect (there are more reinforcement joints and they are more reliable).

The events of the late 19th century are now inapplicable, because you did not take into account the difference in the influence of EM interference on the network of telegraph wires of air laying tens of kilometers long each and on the fiber of underground /underwater placement with power veins.
Such a VOLS and EMI of an air nuclear explosion will have a not too destructive effect.