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How hard is it to disconnect a country from the Internet? (renesys.com)
19 points by 001sky on Dec 1, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 7 comments

Another important point is what would happen to services everyone use. Google and Microsoft probably don't have much to fear, since they use very decentralized services and have data centers all over the world. But it's surprising to see how many well known web sites are hosted at just a few, if not a single location. During Sandy, when PEER1 went down, that was a single building, yet it took down major sites for days.

If every cable was cut to the United States (and Canada and Mexico I guess) would we even notice a problem?

Are enough servers located in the US that our Internet service, while certainly diminished, wouldn't be all that different?

Is there something about the design of the Internet that cutting all those connections would damage the ones internal to the United States?

You can get a feel for this by running netstat -tn and then running a traceroute to each connection you currently have open.

For example, my connection to news.ycombinator.com takes this path:

Salt Lake City Denver Dallas Houston

My connection to en.wikipedia.org takes the same first three hops and seems to end in a data center in Dallas.

This came up during Hurricane Sandy. NYC is a point of entry for a large number of undersea Cables. Some of these are pretty important, and there was discussion about what would happen if the surge or debris were to take out a couple of them.

“Given the duration and strength of this storm, you have to worry about the cables getting disrupted,” said an executive with a data center company who did not want to be named. He said problems with the cables is “ the kind of thing companies will keep close to the vest. If either AC-1 or AC-2 were to go out there would be major, major issues.”


edit: citation added.

It seems like international traffic to/from the US is heavy enough that cutting down several of the largest international connections could flood the remaining ones to the point that they are mostly unusable. That would not be an "off switch" but could potentially really mess things up.

A few of these are incorrect -- Somalia has a huge amount of satellite connectivity through providers who don't bother to SWIP their RIPE blocks. I suspect it is the same in a lot of other African countries with limited "official" connectivity.

Look out Greenland!

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