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How to survive the five worst technology disasters

What would happen if the internet exploded?


From banks to hospitals to the systems that keep the juice flowing to our homes, we are almost entirely dependent on tech. We look at the effect of the five worst 'tech doomsday' scenarios, such as the entire net collapsing, would have on our lives.

How long to recover: How long it takes organisations to bounce back depends on how serious they were about disaster recovery before hell broke loose.

Backup power generators, fuel supplies, alternative work facilities, redundant data centers in multiple locations, and a well-rehearsed plan for making it all work together are the key elements to disaster recovery, says Richard Rees, security solution director for disaster recovery and business continuity specialists

Fortunately for our scenario, the financial sector is better prepared than most, says Rees.

"The best recent example are the financial institutions after 9/11," he says.

"They had solid disaster recovery plans, they'd invested in their infrastructure and rigorously tested it, they knew what to do. They were back and open for business within three days. Their results were dramatically different than other organisations who'd tested their plans maybe once or twice. They could be out of commission for up to six months. There aren't too many businesses who can really withstand that."

Likelihood: Higher than you might think. You can buy a small EMP device over the internet or download plans for building your own, says Nordling, who says he's been approached by a number of companies who believe they've already suffered an attack.

"There's a tremendous proliferation of information about EMP devices and the barriers to entry are extremely low," he says.

"It's not just a tool for terrorists - it could be disgruntled employees, criminals, extremists, competitors, or college kids who want to build one simply for the heck of it. From talking with members of Congress, they believe an EMP attack will happen. It's not a question of if, but when."

How to avoid this: One option is to install welded-steel shielding on all six sides of any room containing critical electronics, and put filters on all power and communications lines to siphon off high-frequency radio signals.

A less costly option is to put your critical systems into a modular data centre that's protected against EMP attacks, which you can fail over to when needed.

NEXT PAGE: Google is gone

  1. We look at the likelihood of these doomsday scenarios
  2. Britain goes dark
  3. What could happen
  4. Wall Street gets e-bombed
  5. How long would it take Wall Street to recover?
  6. Google is gone
  7. What could happen if Google goes down
  8. The net goes down
  9. What effect would the net going down have on us?
  10. God strikes back
  11. Could we recover from an act of God?

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