Written by Bernie Carr
Lately, I’ve been seeing articles on the possibility of an “internet apocalypse.” I’ve written about internet outages before due to cyberattack, but the recent fears stemmed for a NASA article about solar storms.
It’s happened before
… a destructive solar storm in 1989 caused electrical blackouts across Quebec for 12 hours, plunging millions of Canadians into the dark and closing schools and businesses. The most intense solar storm on record, the Carrington Event in 1859, sparked fires at telegraph stations and prevented messages from being sent. If the Carrington Event happened today, it would have even more severe impacts, such as widespread electrical disruptions, persistent blackouts, and interruptions to global communications. Such technological chaos could cripple economies and endanger the safety and livelihoods of people worldwide.SOURCE: NASA
What is the risk of this happening?
In a 2021 UC Irvine study, the author, Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, cited astrophysicists who put the possibility of an internet-disrupting event at somewhere between 1.6% and 12% per decade. If this happens, it would have more devastating effects on today’s technological culture than in previous history, she said.
“We’ve never experienced one of the extreme case events, and we don’t know how our infrastructure would respond to it. Our failure testing doesn’t even include such scenarios.”Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi as quoted to The Washington Post
What else can cause an internet disruption?
Natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, or severe storms can damage physical network infrastructure, such as undersea cables or data centers, causing widespread internet outages.
Cyberattacks: Large-scale and sophisticated cyberattacks can cripple internet services. If hackers successfully breach critical infrastructure, such as internet service providers (ISPs) or cloud service providers, they can disrupt or disable internet connectivity, leading to an internet apocalypse.
Solar Flares and Electromagnetic Pulses (EMPs): Solar flares or EMPs generated by nuclear explosions could release a surge of electromagnetic radiation that interferes with or damages electronic devices and communication systems, including the internet infrastructure.
Terrorism: In the event of a large-scale conflict or acts of terrorism targeting key internet infrastructure, intentional disruption or destruction of communication networks can lead to an internet apocalypse.
Infrastructure Failure: The aging or inadequate maintenance of critical internet infrastructure can lead to failures and widespread outages. This can occur due to technical faults, power grid failures, or insufficient capacity to handle increasing demands.
Government Regulations or Censorship: In some extreme cases, governments may impose strict regulations, censorship, or shut down internet access entirely, effectively causing an internet apocalypse within their jurisdiction.
What can you do to prepare?
If you feel the urge to prepare for the possibility of an internet apocalypse, take a few steps as you would prepare for a natural disaster, but with more communication options:
- Build a Survival Kit: Just as you would prepare for a natural disaster, it’s important to create an offline survival kit for an internet apocalypse. This kit should include essential items such as a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, flashlights, non-perishable food, clean water, first aid supplies, and a printed map of your local area. These items will help you stay connected and informed in the absence of internet access.
- Establish Offline Communication Channels: In a scenario where the internet is unavailable, having alternative communication methods is crucial. Set up a plan with your family, friends, or community to establish offline communication channels. This can involve designated meeting points, agreed-upon signals, or the use of walkie-talkies. Additionally, consider obtaining a satellite phone or a ham radio to enable long-distance communication without internet infrastructure.
- Have a cash emergency fund: In the event there are no electronic means of payment, have some cash in your car or wallet and at home so you can buy gas to get home, and cash to buy food.
- Secure Important Data and Information: Backing up your digital data is essential in case of an internet apocalypse. Save critical documents, photos, and files on external hard drives or offline storage devices. Additionally, build your document binder by printing physical copies of important documents like identification cards, medical records, and emergency contact information. Storing this information offline will ensure accessibility even when the internet is unavailable.
- Acquire Offline Resources: In a world without internet, offline resources become invaluable. Start building a physical library of books, encyclopedias, survival guides, and reference materials that can provide valuable information and entertainment during an internet apocalypse. Consider acquiring offline versions of useful apps, such as offline maps, dictionaries, and educational resources, to continue learning and accessing information offline.
- Develop Essential Skills: To thrive in an internet apocalypse, it’s important to develop skills that rely less on digital tools. Enhance your survival skills, learn basic first aid techniques, and acquire knowledge about alternative energy sources and basic DIY repairs. Cultivating hobbies like gardening, cooking, or crafting can also help you stay occupied and self-sufficient during prolonged periods without internet access.
- Join Offline Communities: Establishing connections with like-minded individuals who are also preparing for an internet apocalypse can be invaluable. Join local community groups or organizations that focus on offline skills, emergency preparedness, or sustainable living. Engaging in offline communities can provide a support network, knowledge sharing, and opportunities for collaboration during challenging times.
In truth, NASA never issued an actual warning about pending solar storm activity. They are working on technology that could predict potential internet-disrupting solar activity.
On the other hand, internet disruptions are possible for any number of reasons, so it never hurts to prepare. Following the steps outlined above so you can equip yourself to navigate an internet interruption. Preparation is key, and taking proactive measures to secure back up your information, offline resources, establish alternative communication channels, and develop essential skills will ensure you’re ready to face any challenges that may arise during an internet apocalypse.
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About the author
Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Bernie’s latest e-book, FRUGAL DIY has just been released on Amazon. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.