Nowadays, if people forget to bring their mobile phones, it is like being hollowed out, there is no sense of belonging, there is no sense of security, and they are worried that they will not receive information. Many things they want to do but cannot do, are arrogant and uneasy, and it is difficult to calm down. Mobile phones and computers are so important because we can connect to the Internet through these tools.
In 1995, less than 1% of humans were able to go online, most of them were Westerners. After 20 years, more than 3.5 billion people are able to connect to the Internet, accounting for almost half of the global population. And this number increases by one person every 10 seconds. According to the Pew Research Center of the US polling agency, 5% of Americans are online every day, and 73% of Americans use the Internet at least every day. According to the 2016 China Internet Network Information Center, the number of Chinese netizens reached 710 million, accounting for 51.7% of the national population.
If 1993 is counted as the time when the Internet is truly available to all human beings, the Internet has existed for more than 20 years. It is only a short moment in the long history of human history recorded in about 10,000 years. However, its influence on human beings has been achieved. The degree of frightening people. Human society is connected with the network, and the Internet has become the second air of mankind. People are extremely dependent and unable to leave.
So what happens to human society if the Internet is disconnected all day?
The chaotic world after disconnection
On November 22, 2012, near the city of Warrnambool, Australia, Greg Walsh found that the network was broken, and the mobile phone and the landline could not be connected. He learned through the radio that the telephone exchange in Warrnambool was on fire, resulting in The network is disconnected. Greg should have received a work email on the computer and issued work orders to various departments. At this time, he had to drive 20 minutes into the city to personally pass the oral communication. The car didn’t have oil in the middle of the road. When I came to the gas station, I found that I couldn’t brush the card because I couldn’t connect. There was only 5 Australian dollars in cash in my pocket. When he found the ATM, he found that the machine could not be used, so he had to go to the bank to withdraw money, but he saw a long withdrawal team outside the bank. This small fire caused 100,000 people to lose network and telephone contact, which lasted for three weeks.
A similar partial disconnection network has also occurred in the United States. In Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, the network cable is not cut off by anyone. Almost all the statewide networks are broken. The network has been down for nearly 12 hours. Because there is no network and no real-time communication, most people don’t know what happened. The panic atmosphere is very strong. The bank closes and lowers the protection bar to prevent the masses from entering; the supermarket also prevents people from entering unless they show their cash at the door; people are running around in order to get cash and supplies…
The real picture after the disconnection of these local areas reflects the confusion after the Internet is disconnected.
For individuals, if the global Internet is completely disconnected, it will be impossible to obtain relevant information in time, and it is impossible to contact relatives and friends in time. Although the traditional telephone line may still be there, at present, the landline lines of many cities also take the network fiber, and the network is also broken when the network is disconnected. Even now many people no longer install the landline. Communication and information disconnection can cause anxiety and anxiety.
For the whole society, the broken network will cause a heavy blow to the whole society. The catastrophic impact begins with the economic sector, which is also the biggest pressure for the government to break the network. The financial market will be suspended, the stock market and banks can only be closed down, and non-cash payment methods such as credit cards, debit cards, WeChat and Alipay will be suspended. People cannot get cash and cannot purchase the required items. Global network companies such as Google, Amazon, Sina, and Taobao will all be closed down. As the backbone of the modern economy, the suspension of these network platforms will bring huge economic losses. Of course, if it’s just a day off, many transactions are only delayed, and the actual losses are not that big. However, over time, the company’s business pauses not only means huge economic losses, but also means that a large number of employees are laid off.
As cities become more intelligent, the infrastructure of many cities is increasingly integrated with network technology. Once the network is disconnected, the function of the infrastructure will be affected. Today, more and more countries’ grids, natural gas pipelines, and water supplies are network-based data acquisition and monitoring systems (SCADA). The design of this system is highly intelligent. When one or more faults occur, it can be automatically adjusted for faults, and the relevant departments will rely heavily on these intelligent systems. However, once the network is broken, if the backup measures are not in place, the city’s life system may be paralyzed.
For traffic, disconnected network means that the automatic navigation function is invalid, and some people may be lost in the road. For cities that build traffic lights and grooming systems through the Internet, urban traffic will become confusing.
The disappearance of the Internet can also cause food shortages, as many food suppliers and supermarkets collect supply demand information through the network and produce according to these needs. Once this supply chain fails, at least a few days before the network is disconnected, the system will be overwhelmed and affect the normal food supply.
Anxiety, unemployment, lack of supplies, and insanity can be swept into a whirlwind and used by some anti-social, anti-government or lawless elements, which may eventually turn into a political crisis. Moreover, the higher the level of modernization, the greater the impact, and the people of the original African tribes can still sit back and relax. The more Internet-based human society, the more vulnerable it is.
Is it possible to disconnect the network globally?
The network is not inviolable. In fact, the phenomenon of network disconnection in a local area has occurred from time to time.
A cyber attack can be a cause of a large-scale disconnection. A malicious attacker can attack a router vulnerability or shut down a domain name server by issuing a malicious program, resulting in a large-scale network outage.
Cutting off the deep sea cable will also cause local network disconnection. Deep-sea optical cable is the main road of network traffic between the mainland and the world. Once the cable is disconnected, the network connection between the mainland and the mainland will be interrupted. Cutting off the cable is not easy for the attacker, but the cable itself is sometimes accidentally damaged. In 2008, due to the breakdown of submarine cables, the networks in the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia were disconnected.
Some governments have set up an “Internet death switch” for their home network. In Egypt, when the revolutionary wave of the “Arab Spring” in 2011 occurred, the government used such a switch to shut down its network to increase the difficulty of coordinating organizations. Turkey and Iran also made this move during the people’s protests to suppress the protests of the masses. The US senator is also proposing to create an Internet life and death switch in the United States as a defensive measure when a cyber attack occurs. However, setting up a death switch is not easy. The bigger and more developed the country, the more difficult it is to shut down the network, because there are too many network connections between domestic and international.
However, disconnecting the network worldwide is not that easy, because network service providers have prepared various solutions and maintenance personnel, ready to deal with network attacks and network disconnects, repair damaged networks, and enable the global network to continue to connect. .
But in theory there is still the possibility of global disconnection. The most catastrophic cyberattack, and the one most likely to cause global network failure, comes from the solar storm. Solar storms produce rapidly increasing electromagnetic radiation, high-energy charged particle streams, and rapid plasma clouds of coronal mass ejections. These three phenomena will affect or even destroy the Earth’s communications, satellites, and ground technology systems. Because these three phenomena will arrive at Earth in succession, they are called “three rounds of attacks.”
The solar storm has repeatedly affected satellite operations or caused satellite failure. On July 14, 2000, a huge solar storm caused many satellites in the United States and Japan to fail. One of Japan’s X-ray astronomical solar panels was misplaced. Unable to supply energy, the satellite fell into the Earth’s atmosphere in March 2001. The solar storm also affected the ground wireless communications, causing the short-wave radios of the radio stations in Beijing, Lanzhou, Lhasa and Urumqi to be completely interrupted.
Solar storms can also cause heavy damage to the power system because additional current can damage or burn the transformers in the grid. The most famous incident was the strong solar storm that occurred in March 1989, which caused the Quebec region of Canada to black out for 9 hours on a cold winter night.
Therefore, if the solar storm blowing to the Earth is strong enough, it is not impossible to break the network. It may be broken for a few days or even months. In that case, the entire modern society will be embarrassed overnight.