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How to destroy the Internet

How to destroy the Internet
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Think about how often you use the Internet every day to communicate, check bank accounts and do other critical activities. Now, think about how disastrous it would be if the Internet just shut off one day. We're so reliant on the Internet nowadays that if someone was able to break it, we'd be in big trouble.

Could someone actually break the Internet? Theoretically, yes. One way they could go about would be to attack buildings like the London Internet Exchange, also known as LINX. LINX and buildings like it are the main hub where major Internet providers connect and exchange information. There are about 30 of these buildings in the world and if one was destroyed, it could have a serious effect on Internet traffic. However, that's unlikely to happen.

This sort of doomsday scenario isn’t very likely or feasible, though. These kinds of important internet facilities are extremely well protected, says Jack Waters, CTO of Level 3 – one of a handful of “Tier 1” network providers that are also crucial, because their big and resilient networks help form the backbone of the internet.

Even if several major data centers are knocked off line, the Internet would likely still keep on ticking. Because of a method call "packet-switching."

Their idea was called “packet-switching” and it describes a communications protocol that breaks messages down into small blocks, or packets. These are fired across a network via the fastest route available – whatever that route is – until they all arrive at their destination, where they are then reassembled. Take out one link in the network, even an important one, and messages can still arrive where they are expected by taking one of the many alternative routes.

So, the Internet is safe, right? Not so fast. There are other areas where the Internet is vulnerable, too.

Next page: Learn more about Internet vulnerabilities.
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