The Internet goes down? It could happen.
Think it’s bad when Twitter and Instagram go down? Neuroscientist and New York Times bestselling author David Eagleman says there is something that’s probably worse. Like the internet going down. Everywhere.
Eagleman says there are four possible scenarios that could actually cause such a disaster.
1. Space weather
Solar flares could cause satellite failures and have done so before as recently as 1998. If another significant solar flare came along, Eagleman says it would blow out transformers and melt down our computer systems.
“A major solar event could theoretically melt down the whole Internet. What earthquakes, bombs, and terrorism cannot do might be accomplished in moments by a solar corona.”
Eagleman calls them the wars of the future.
“Wars of the future will be fought less by rugged soldiers in the field and more by smart kids perched in front of computers slamming energy drinks. As our dependence shifts onto the Net, so do our vulnerabilities,” he says.
“It will surprise no one that cyberwarfare of the future will involve targeting not only military and industrial targets but Internet connectivity for the general population. If you want to take down your enemy, start by shredding his Net,” he says.
3. Political mandate
We all know about how strict internet regulations are in places like China. And if you remember, during the 2010 post-election riots in Iran, the government there shut down the Internet for 45 minutes. Egypt’s government did the same during its revolution in 2011.
It could happen here, Eagleman suggests. Look up the “Internet kill switch.”
4. Cable cutting
Finally, he proposes probably the most simple of the causes: cable cutting.
“Although satellites are used for some Internet traffic, more than 99 percent of global Web traffic is dependent on deep-sea networks of fiber-optic cables that blanket the ocean floor like a nervous system. These are a major physical target in wars, especially at special choke-points in the system. And this is not simply a theoretical prediction, the underwater battles are well underway,” Eagleman writes.