Call it research for a savage post-apocalyptic novel if you like...

I want to know from any of my tech-savvy friends, what would it take from a hardware, software or power supply angle to completely take out the collective storehouse of knowledge we call the world-wide-web?

Think creatively. What would someone have to do if they wanted to do it?

6 comments:

Jeff said...

Doesn't Google Inc. have their data warehouses spread out across the country in secret locations? There was a time when they were buying up all the fiber optic cable available. I bet there are a few google employees who might know how to do it.

P.S. hi to the FBI agent(s) reading this post.

JPB said...

Mr. Congressman, I am not a terrorist.

JPB said...

Actually, rhetoric for an intriguing title aside, I'm mainly interested in the fragility of our information base. We no longer have much of a collective memory and don't feel the need to pass information or even know-how down orally. After all ... we can Google it. So what happens if we lose that? And how easy would it be?

Dan said...

If you research on the "Internet Backbone" here in the United States, there are a number of high-security Internet backbone links spread throughout the U.S., but pretty much all of the data runs through these points of contact. I remember within the last decade a major hub in Chicago was down, and most of 5-state region basically had its own version of the Internet for those couple hours. There's supposed to be redundancy built in, but it seems that most of the redundancy is just at those main switching stations, as far as I've heard. I was trying to find a quick map, but I couldn't find a good map in a quick look.

justin said...

You may find this article interesting: Wired: Gathering 'Storm' Superworm Poses Grave Threat to PC Nets.

Abe said...

Oh, you have just touched on something I often think about. There's really two possibilities: (1) stopping the flow of data and (2) erasing the data.

For (1), Dan touched on it already. There's key "choke points" that if you cut, you'd interrupt data flow. However, once the connection is restored it all comes back together. So, it'd be a huge economic-blow, but have little cultural effect.

(2) is a little tougher.
Best bet is start locating the data centers. They're not well known, but people work there so you've got to be able to find them. Next, recall that all data is stored in magnetic form. You don't need to destroy the data centers, you just need to get an EM-pulse inside the shielding of the facility. Become, say, a HVAC repairman that specializes in servicing cooling systems for servers and data storage.

This assumes some things that may not be true, as I have no idea what security is like at the data centers. However, in principle, or--at the very least--in Hollywood it would work.

I don't advise anyone to pursue the above plan, but it'd make for a fun novel. Boy, age 12, "Daddy, where were you when the internet died?"