What Would It Take to Shut Down the Internet?

Nov. 12, 2019

Eller students with laptop

In a survey of several leading cybersecurity experts, Gizmodo’s “Giz Asks” considered what would happen if the “entire internet shut down at once.” The magazine turned to Laura Brandimarte, assistant professor of management information systems in the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, for guidance.

Brandimarte reviewed the physical and political elements that could cause such a shutdown, including an attack on the nation’s power grid, criminal mischief or natural disasters that cut major subsea cables or other internet-providing infrastructure and acts by authoritarian governments to censor internet access among residents.

“Everything being connected today may bring along significant convenience,” she says in the article, “but it also implies that everything can be hacked.” And while there are ways to protect against internet loss on a massive scale from authoritarian governments, for example, “censorship essentially prevents the vast majority of the population… to access the internet, de facto making it disappear,” she says.

Brandimart joined the Eller College in 2015. Her areas of research include privacy, the psychology of self-disclosure and the social dynamics of privacy decision making and information sharing.

Enterprise security that prevents hacking is at the heart of Eller’s online Master’s in Management Information Systems program. Learn more about the online MS MIS by completing the form.

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