Collaboration

10 ways humans could kill the Internet

GigaOm's Alistair Croll recently wrote a terrificly depressing and honest piece about the ways the Internet is changing and, as a result, some of the potential disasters that could bring it to its knees in the future. See the list of 10 disastrous issues to watch.

Earlier this month, GigaOm's Alistair Croll wrote a terrificly depressing and honest piece about the ways the Internet is changing and, as a result, some of the potential disasters that could bring it to its knees in the future.

Below is Croll's list of the top "10 Ways the Internet (As We Know It) Will Die."

  1. Someone subverts DNS
  2. Zombie networks attack
  3. Massive physical infrastructure failure
  4. Death by a thousand fragments
  5. A really good virus breaks the routers
  6. Updates break how updates work
  7. The Net stops being neutral
  8. The lawyers get involved
  9. Walled gardens
  10. Humans take themselves out

For further details on each item, read the full article.

Bottom line for IT leaders

Since the Internet is a mission critical system for doing business, IT leaders should take a general interest in promoting practices that support a stable, neutral, and secure Internet. Some of the issues in this article are a little overblown -- such as DNS being subverted and updates breaking updates -- but it correctly notes that the Internet is currently facing a number of critical issues that could negatively impact users and businesses. The issues of net neutrality, severe regulation of ISPs and Web hosts, and the protection of the Internet's physical infrastructure are all extremely important and very timely.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

51 comments
jawtech
jawtech

our well meaning government decides to tax the internet.

Travst
Travst

I'd like to see an article on all the businesses that have gone toes up because of the unfair competition that results from the internet being, for the large part, tax-free. Ever wonder where all the small computer stores went?

JCitizen
JCitizen

I agree with one of the posters over at that article; that tools like Adobe flash could be the net's defacto DRM if things continue the way they are. Mike Cerm said: "Flash has historically been used for its interactivity and visual flare, but increasingly it's becoming a kind of DRM for web-content. Certainly, ubiquitous Flash deployment is one way that the Internet (as we know it) will die." (EDITED) for punctuation

seanferd
seanferd

DRM, Flash as DRM, or Flash as flash. All-Flash sites and those that use it heavily have already "broken" the internet for folks with older systems. As in good practice for images (include an alternate text tag), sites using Flash or similar should provide alternate HTML. I'm all for progress, but some of the innovation on the 'net, or the usages thereof, aren't really progress in my book. Even HTML is drifting off course, and it still isn't what it should have been in the first place. While not the "destruction" of the internet, these things are pushing it in a lame direction, IMO.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

For example, the kleptocrats at the UN have had their eyes on this role for years. Centralized control would inevitably mean centralized corrpuption, and an inevitable steamroller of civil rights.

jackintheback
jackintheback

This Has Got To be the most important perspective that has been allowed into public consessus. We hold these truths to be self evident. I understand the necessity of futility, its just the teaching of it (futility) should be illegal. There should be a 100 ways to fix a dead internet connection!

djMot
djMot

Whether real or imagined weaknesses, these 10 items simply provide a ToDo list for those who have nothing better to do and way too much time on their hands. It's nothing more than a challenge. Where our thoughts go, our energy flows. Why do we waste all this editorial space on ways to kill the internet rather than ways to strengthen and make the internet an even more resourceful and pleasant experience. A huge BOOOOOO to Jason Hiner for posting such an apocalyptic freight-fest. Dude! Get a focus!

seanferd
seanferd

This list isn't going to give anyone with bad intent any new ideas.

brian
brian

Just as the list provides opportunities to the bad guys it also offers a set of opportunitie to the good guys to get out there and fix the vulnerabilities as they see them. The big issue here is cost, resource and willingness to get engaged. We need to get people involved at appropriate levels, where accountability and resource management lie. by brian 24-04-2008

JCitizen
JCitizen

and out to action to keep the internet the way it is. Visions of apocalypse can be a very effective motivator.

WillieD123
WillieD123

I thought 10 came after 9 - not 0...

Jaqui
Jaqui

7: The Net stops being neutral Yes, this would break the net, as we know it. The problem with it is that every country would have to make the same law changes to cause this. That will not happen. 8: The lawyers get involved Well, they already are, with TOS pages for community sites etc. hasn't broken it yet. 1: Someone subverts DNS Which is why there should be full duplicates of the root DNS servers, to avoid this from happening. Since the Canadian Government, and regulatory bodies such as the CRTC have consistently refused to have anything to do with internet regulation, Canada will not be likely to pass any laws that would break the internet. Site content, for servers in Canada, must meet the laws about said content, in non internet based access. [ adult content must conform to Canada's porn laws, there is no difference if it is a retail storefront or online storefront. ] So, while it would be possible to break it, the possibility is remote.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

the combination of some of these issues could give us an Internet that is less democratic and more susceptible to pockets of outages (especially for users with lower tiers of service, if net neutrality doesn't prevail).

steve6375
steve6375

What is killing the web is everyone soaking up bandwidth by downloading/streaming videos from TV companies who provide the last 30 days free (BBC/ITV in UK). This will reduce the inet to a virtually useless service and we will all have to revert to speeds equivalent to dialup again!

seanferd
seanferd

Sounds like an investment opportunity! Get antennae up, and the condos will follow. Confuse folks near the Pole by telling them to point their receivers North.

JCitizen
JCitizen

you ought to see how hard it is to point a dish antenna in Antarctica! No coverage - Bhaa! ;)

JCitizen
JCitizen

I was just joking, hadn't heard of clearwire. Thanks to you and seanferd!

seanferd
seanferd

Wi-Fi. They certainly don't go out of their way to actually tell you or anything. The only place they explicitly say that their whole network is Wi-Fi: http://www.clearwire.com/company/legal/wifi.htm Under: [4. Service Availability; Required Device.] The phrase: [...operating range of the Clearwire Wi-Fi network.] In the FAQ they say it is "like" Wi-Fi: [Q Is Clearwire mobile like a Wi-Fi connection? A Clearwire is portable like Wi-Fi.] And this non-answer: [Q How does Clearwire connect wirelessly? A Clearwire uses state-of-the-art wireless technology to transmit signals to and from your modem on fully licensed and protected frequencies. Your connection is always on and always secure.] Service area for those in the States (apparently excluding Antarctic research stations): http://www.clearwire.com/store/service_areas.php These guys do have some interesting technology and services. I like this one: [...ClearPlugs use existing wiring to extend the signal from the modem to your computer...]. Some specs: OFDM transmission protocol. Clearwire operates at licensed 2.5GHz frequencies. Up to 2.0 Mb download/256k upload speeds. VOIP

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

Don't know .. is that WiMax? Les.

JCitizen
JCitizen

You must be on that new satellite internet service I read so much about! Or do you have WIMAX in your neighborhood? Just curious! :)

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

with the money that we save by cancelling our cable, blockbuster subscription and home telephone service. i am already there .. come follow. les.

steve6375
steve6375

If the infrastructure needs to be upgraded, who do you think will end up paying for it?

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

Streaming video is where the Internet is headed. The demand for instantaneous downloading of sound and video is going to expand the internet to encompass cable TV, home telephones and even remove the need for CDs and DVDs. A lot of things are going to disappear in the near future to be replaced by the Internet. Les.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The user needs should not be limited by IT, IT should expand to support user needs. It's the same for service providers. Around these parts, we have entrenched highspeed providers on old wire telling everyone they have to start doing traffic shaping because there networks can't handle the loads of there users. I got an idea; upgrade your freaking networks with some of those profits your gutting me for monthly. I can't agree that streaming video will kill the internet though it may kill off a few of the less agile companies that provide connectivity. Look how things have gone in asia where a cell phone has more bandwidth and features than any of our local ISP and most connected deviced outside of desktops and notebooks. Bandwidth needs to increase.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

In a sense this is already occurring. There are places from which I regularly access the Internet via dialup due to the fact that there is no other Internet option. These are places where the phone systems are old, both the lines to the homes, and the hardware at the telco. Virtually none of my regular sites to visit are quickly and easily accessible via dialup under these circumstances. I wouldn't bother with the Internet at all when in these places were it not for the fact that my work requires me to keep up with my email at the very least. In the above sense the Internet is broken in that a whole lot of folks have limited to zero access still.

JCitizen
JCitizen

"the combination of some of these issues could give us an Internet that is less democratic" In other words it will die as we know it. At least in my opinion it might as well be dead at that point. I hope the fact that the public started the back bone of the present internet and are still heavily invested in it; gives at least the American users a sense of ownership, and vested interest to keep it neutral and as wide open as possible to maintain freedom. Hopefully not to the point of chaotic breakdown - but freedom of thought, movement/progression and as open to the masses as possible(economic). I pray we maintain the will to keep it that way.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Original post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=649 What do you think needs to be done to ensure a more stable, neutral, and secure Internet?

criean
criean

If you connect to a web site using the standard http protocol then it is an unsecure connection. If you are using the https (SSL) connection then it is encrypted and gives some degree of security however there are man in the middle attacks that can defeat SSL connections. If you are talking about sending email then there is no security as the message crosses the internet unless you encrypt it with something like PGP.I hope that this will help a little bit. criean I challenge you to a game of trivia! Click here to battle against me online at ConQUIZtador. Let's see who's the winner... https://www.conquiztador.com/?a=26041

mike_patburgess
mike_patburgess

Keep it simple. Make unique identifiers per system... No spoofing (lock this down). Ensure maximum compliance to standards for all servers. STOP all off shore access for suspect countries.. Eliminate all extraneous domain names.. viagra.com, bob.com, etc.. you get the picture. Shut them all down except those that are valid and have everyone go through secure domains. Etc etc...

sufyan_ghole
sufyan_ghole

Please send me.

sufyan_ghole
sufyan_ghole

Please send me any networking hacking tips and trick. sufyan955@gmail.com this is my e-mail id.

seanferd
seanferd

1. Buy an axe. 2. Swing.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

The internet is no longer 'new'. As people get bored with much of the 'net, it will stabilize.

tungstendiadem
tungstendiadem

We could always teach our children that they go to prison instead of landing a six figure salary for breaking the internet. We charge people suspected of attempting to break the internet as, you know, criminals. If we wanted to stop the consumer internet we could use social networking sites to spread the coolness of being offline and doing something interesting instead of gobbling up earth destroying energy and emergency response bandwidth.

tungstendiadem
tungstendiadem

It really depends on what part of the internet you are talking about. Serious disruptions and downtime across the entire internet are unlikely. America and East Asia use different technologies for internet services, and within both systems technologies are aged on different cycles. The internet is a diverse hodgepodge of competing technologies and not a single technology framework. The premise behind MS's .NET movement is cross platform portability. Diversity in addition to making tech millionaires every day also mitigates against risk. The real threats of disruption and downtime are threats to telcom equipment and lines, and those threats are primarily regional issues that are mitigated within hours and resolved in days. Every day new lines are being laid and old network lines reutilized. Metro Ethernet and SONET are both self healing network schemes that will at the very least provide communications services over metro areas. I could go on for days (or at least five pages) but there is a good reason for mirroring servers across geographically diverse regions. It serves to provide "the internet" to wherever "the internet" is not suffering systems failures and compromise.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

If we don't stop reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, the internet is sure to suffer in the long run. While the internet will meet a slow demise over an extended period of time, I think mankind is responsible for increasing that demise in an unearthy fashion. er.....sorry, wrong thread. :-( On the other side, I watched South Park and they proved that if the Internet goes down, we just need to unplug it and plug it in again.

JCitizen
JCitizen

what a gas!! The "Grapes of Wrath" environment was truely hilarious! :^0

JCitizen
JCitizen

Just kidding. One of my old roomates used to joke everytime the internet was down that I was going "cold turkey". :)

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I'd like my Internet time to be private please.

Snak
Snak

Number eleven: The internet gets so full of rubbish that wading through it to find anything useful will be less interesting than watching paint dry.

DanLM
DanLM

And to fix it? The government and major backbones should let loose just once a month with their most vicious and technically savvy employee's to retaliate against the current location of the largest botnets... Then they hammer the current distribution servers of the nastiest virus's. Take them down, take them completely down... Infect them with their own virus's that melt the machines... Hammer the hosting servers till it takes them months to come back on line. Bot master PC's should be fried... No chances, just watch them smoke. Infected machines should receive technical assistance in removing all infections. I just read an article where the public has become more security conciouses... And that most infections are now happening due to redirected websites... In other words, people are not as heavily infected via email... But just from normal surfing activities.. I'm sorry, my feelings on this are the same they are with regard to how the civilized nations fight wars. We don't fight to win, we fight to be politically correct. My feelings, if in doubt... That the mothers out. No holds barred. Dan

seanferd
seanferd

I like the idea. Yep, at least monthly. If more organizations would simply not prosecute white hats for pointing out flaws in their systems, a lot more warriors would be available. MS has recently announce that they won't prosecute...

Jaqui
Jaqui

first, get the root DNS servers replicated in full in completely different jurisdictions, so that the base infrastructure can be maintained in event of physical destruction. picture a terrorist event taking out the root DNS servers right now. No functional backup servers, no real dns resolution. A lot of different isp and hosting companies use the root dns servers for most lookups, they go down, these services are broken. neutral internet can only be maintained if it is administered by a neutral body, of which there is not one right now. secure? well, that would require banning any system that could be infested with malware from accessing the internet at all. and it would require a mandatory secure socket layer type of protocol for all internet activity.

seanferd
seanferd

Don't worry, they keep both you and the internet safe.

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