If the Internet were to fail for a number of days, the loss of e-mail communication would be the biggest inconvenience, according to TechRepublic members who responded to our recent survey.

Nature reported that there is a statistical possibility that the Internet could be crippled if a few critical routers were successfully attacked. In our survey, TechRepublic asked how such an outage would affect your enterprise.

We listed nine groups of functions that could be considered critical to a business and asked you to rate the impact of losing your Internet connection to each.

You told us that the biggest impact would be in corporate communications/collaboration. The results indicate that more than 95 percent of respondents are using e-mail and other communications over the Internet in business functions. More than 70 percent would consider the loss of these electronic communication methods to be “important” to “catastrophic.” This category had the highest number of respondents who would consider this a catastrophic loss.

According to the survey, the second biggest impact of an Internet outage would be to your company’s sales and marketing efforts, followed by customer service inquiries, and security issues.

We also asked if you have a backup system to replace anything you would be doing online. More than two-thirds of those who took the survey reported that they are prepared with a backup system.

How safe do you think the Internet is as a reliable tool for communications? Are you planning to switch your company’s telephone services to the Internet? Start or join a discussion below or send us a note.