Can the internet collapse? The collapse of the entire internet is theoretically possible but extremely unlikely. Similar to how fifty times flipping a coin can result in a head outcome.
If the day ever comes when the internet crashes everywhere, almost by definition, the thing that does it will be something we weren’t expecting.
Continue reading to learn more about Internet problems and political crises after the Internet collapse.
Can The Internet Collapse?
The good news is that it would be very difficult for the internet to completely collapse. There is no on/off switch for the internet; it is not a magic box. It’s not even a physical object. It consists of a variety of tangible items and is ever-changing. Machines constantly join and leave the internet, so it doesn’t remain the same thing all the time.
The internet may go offline in some places. In actuality, this occurs frequently. There are events that can stop internet services, such as a specific server crashing and needing to be restarted or replaced, or a cable under the ocean becoming tangled in an anchor. However, the effects are frequently fleeting and localized.
While there is such a thing as the internet backbone – a collection of cables and servers that carry the bulk of data across various networks — it’s not centralized. There is no plug you could pull out of a socket or cable you could cut that would bring the internet to a halt. The protocols that enable machine communication would need to stop functioning for some reason, or the infrastructure would need to sustain significant damage, for the internet to experience a global collapse.
We can rule that out because the protocols aren’t likely to stop functioning on their own. Regarding the scenario with the significant damage, it’s possible. A significant portion of the internet’s infrastructure could be destroyed by an asteroid or comet colliding with the Earth. The sun’s electromagnetic fluctuations or intense gamma radiation might also be effective. However, in those scenarios, the Earth would turn into a lifeless corpse. Even if you can’t log into MySpace at that point, it doesn’t really matter.
Realizing that those who worked on designing the internet produced an amazing tool that is remarkably stable is the more constructive way to approach this situation. The rest of the internet continues operating normally even when certain areas encounter technical difficulties. Although it would be disastrous if the internet disappeared, you shouldn’t be concerned about it.
Can Government Block Your Access To The Internet?
Common Internet Problem
It is still possible for the Internet to experience outages, which are frequently brought on by terrible occurrences like significant power outages and earthquakes. Large outages can affect a sizable portion of the Internet or even an entire nation. However, not even these severe outages will bring down or shut down the Internet. For instance, early in 2007, there were several earthquakes in Asia that damaged undersea cables, leading to widespread phone and Internet-related problems in that region. The rest of the world, however, continued to have Internet access.
Internet Blocked By Countries
Some governments can implement firewalls and other security measures to deny users access to websites on the Internet or to the entire network. As an illustration, during protests in Egypt in 2011, the Internet was repeatedly shut down by the government to stop any information from leaking online. The public was still able to access the Internet even during this strict shutdown, though.
Network Configuration Problems
Although there are safeguards in place to help protect the network hardware that powers the Internet, mistakes can still be made by the people in charge of it. Parts of the Internet may experience outages as a result of improperly configured or outdated hardware. For instance, in 2019, a BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) route leak from Verizon resulted in issues for a number of services, including Cloudflare and AWS. This caused hundreds of websites and services to go offline for almost two hours because so many depend on these businesses. Many websites and services, on the other hand, kept operating without these services.
Many issues can arise for a website or service as a result of attacks like a DDoS attack. These attacks aim to bombard a company with so many requests that it becomes unresponsive. These kinds of attacks have the ability to temporarily disable one or more websites. The Internet as a whole isn’t shut down by the attacks; rather, they only affect one website or service that uses the Internet.
Economic Consequence Of A Collapsed Internet
The economic repercussions of some sort of internet collapse would be catastrophic. The effects would go much further than just the inconvenience of losing services like electronic banking or PayPal.
Consider the industries that rely on the web. Every website would not be accessible. The likes of Google and Amazon would vanish overnight. Huge portions of the business operations of other companies, like Microsoft, would vanish. Even businesses that merely rely on the Internet for advertising would suffer.
Many businesses would close their doors if the collapse was either prolonged or permanent. There would be a loss of employment for hundreds of thousands of people. Nearly 20,000 people work for just Google [source: There would be a huge labor shortage as a result of hundreds of businesses closing or reducing their workforce, according to Google.
35 percent of all shipments from the manufacturing sector were made via e-commerce in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For just that sector, that works out to more than $1.8 trillion. You can see that online trade is a significant industry when you extrapolate those figures to all industries worldwide. Several industries would enter an immediate recession if the internet failed. A loss of trillions of dollars cannot be recovered easily.
The impact would be greater in some nations than in others. The entire industrial sectors would either vanish or struggle to survive in the wake of devastating losses, resulting in severe economic crises for developed nations. Because they are less well-represented online, other nations wouldn’t experience as many immediate consequences from the collapse. However, as their reliance on trade and aid from other related nations decreases, these nations would also suffer.
If the internet were to collapse, very few business types would be unaffected. In business, the internet has spread widely.
Political Risks After The Internet Collapse
If the internet were to crash, the primary crisis governments would likely face on a global scale would be the economic fallout. But that would only be one issue that world leaders would have to deal with.
There is a push in the United States to transform the country’s power grids into smart grids. Theoretically, smart grids could communicate with one another over the internet, conserve energy, and respond to customer needs more effectively. Theoretically, this system might lessen power outages and other issues. A smart grid would be damaged, however, if the internet were to go down. Any country utilizing such a system might experience widespread massive power outages.
Countries have spied on one another using the internet to gather intelligence as it has become more widely used. For intelligence agencies, losing the internet would be a huge setback. Information exchange would become arduous and slow. Some governments might act hastily in response to this circumstance. Although it is impossible to predict how each government would respond, it is not difficult to picture a chain of circumstances that could lead to a conflict.
Other issues would arise if world leaders could keep the peace and resist the urge to blow each other up. Many educational programs now heavily rely on the internet. There would be a void left by the loss of the internet that other resources would have to fill. Resources are expensive; therefore, they would be in short supply as markets attempt to recover from staggering losses.
Although they participate in networks that are conceptually similar to the internet, the military and some research institutions in the United States are not technically connected to the internet. At least some electronic communication and data transmission would be possible if these networks were not impacted. However, the nation would be open to all kinds of attacks if our hypothetical crisis reached these computer networks.