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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.

What could happen:
Yahoo and Bing become swamped with search traffic, and might collapse under the weight.

Organisations that rely on Gmail and Google Docs for their day-to-day operations will find themselves unable to get much done (though, given how many outages Gmail had over the last year, they might be used to it).

YouTube fans may discover there are approximately 7,834 other free video sites out there.

Web entrepreneurs who rely on Google ads will find themselves bereft of income for an unknown period of time.

Other consequences, according to Google Blogoscoped author Philipp Lenssen: "People may not be able to post an update about their life, leading others to believe they've disappeared (because Blogspot is down); conspiracy theorists will be able to sell more books on 'why Google went down (and what the NSA had to do with it)'; and people who want to search for 'why Google is down' realize that, well, Google is down so they can't search for that".

How long it would take to recover: From hours to days, depending on what measures Google already has in place.

A Google spokesperson contacted for this story said: "We are always planning for different threat scenarios, but we aren't going to discuss specific defence measures."

Likelihood: Zuk says it's more likely than most big companies are willing to admit.

"In a big company like Google or Yahoo, which have tens of thousands of employees, there will always be unaware employees who do something stupid like sharing their desktop via WebEx," he says.

"It only takes one to do it, and from there the route to the data centre is a quick one."

How to avoid this fate: To avoid getting nailed by rogue apps, companies need greater visibility into their networks to expose any apps that are running and what ports they are using, and to map all of their other dependencies as well, says Steve Cotton, CEO of FireScope, a developer of IT service management solutions.

To avoid being compromised by insiders, companies should get real-time notifications of the activities of privileged users, block specific unauthorised activities, and split the responsibility for monitoring among multiple users, says Slavik Markovich, CTO at database security firm Sentrigo.

"This last point is critical, as the very privileges needed to properly manage the systems and databases makes it very easy for malicious users to defeat whatever controls may be in place, or to cover their tracks," he says.

"There is a dramatic difference in the likelihood of a breach when it can be accomplished by a single rogue insider, as compared to one that requires co-conspirators across multiple functions."

NEXT PAGE: The net goes down

  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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