Published 2021-10-08
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Biggest Cases Where People Tried To Globally Destroy The Internet!

The internet is a useful thing that has been around for quite some time now. Imagining life without it seems difficult, especially for the younger generations who do not know what life was like without it. The internet has provided a multitude of jobs for people around the world yet at times it has done more harm than good. And so since Tim Berners-Lee launched the World Wide Web in the late 1980s there have been numerous attempts to shut it down! Which attacks were carried out by military groups and governments in a fight for political control? Why did a man get angry and start ripping wires out of a service box? Stay with us to find out which plans had failed and which had succeeded!

Destroying The Web To Save Yourself Embarrassment?

No one enjoys it when people laugh at us. And chances are that if footage of your embarrassing moment ends up online for the whole world to see you might want it taken down. In 2016 a Chinese man known as Liu had taken such a desire to the extreme when he thought someone would upload footage of him dancing to the web and in order to make sure it never saw the light of day he set out to destroy the internet. When he moved to the city of Weifang the man decided to join in with public fitness dance which is quite common among middle-aged women in China and take part in these so-called “granny dances”. When Liu decided to join them, it was much to the amusement of some of the locals and as he later told police, people were recording him and giggling. At the time he thought nothing of it but later began to worry that his moves would end up online. And so he decided to act and one night he broke into four China Telecom service boxes and ripped out the insides. In total, he caused $15,000 worth of damage. And unfortunately for him, Liu was caught multiple times on CCTV and subsequently was arrested by local police.

Bomb To Destroy 70% Of The Web?

Even as recently as 2021 there have been plots to destroy the internet and one came from a man in Texas. Seth Aaron Pendley had allegedly planned to take out 70% of the web by destroying a data center in Virginia with an explosive. According to local media reports, the target was Amazon servers he believed were used by the FBI and CIA, as Pendley allegedly wanted to destroy ‘the oligarchy’ that currently rules the United States. As per media reports, the man was an active member of extremist websites where he went by the name of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and ritual madness. One of the forums in question was MyMilitia where he bosted about his desire to “conduct a little experiment” as well as boasting about taking a sawed-off AR rifle to the storming of the Capitol building that happened at the start of 2021 but later claimed that he left it in the car. But his plans never came to be as one of Pendley’s friends tipped off the authorities. And even if he carried out his plan it would not have destroyed the internet as the physical infrastructure is distributed across the world and backed up multiple times. The man, who pleaded guilty, faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

Mirai Botnet Attacks Dyn Servers

The fact that the web is full of hackers and malware ready to cause damage to your tech is a fact known by many. Though only a few have ever caused as much damage as the Mirai botnet. This attack devastated US systems when it brought down much of the country’s internet back in October 2016. It specifically targeted the IT company Dyn, which at the time, had controlled a large amount of online infrastructure. Its assault caused an internet outage that affected major websites such as Twitter, Netflix, and CNN. The Mirai botnet, which allegedly has been named after the Mirai Nikki anime, was a sophisticated kind of cyber attack which is known as a distributed denial of service or DDoS for short. Computer servers are filled with traffic until they become overwhelmed which causes the system to shut down. It was estimated by experts that Mirai was the largest DDoS attack in history, as the hackers infiltrated a vast array of devices which included digital cameras and video players, and then forced them to attack Dyn’s servers. A year after the attack, computer security journalist Brian Krebs disclosed the name of the person he believed to be behind the malware as Paras Jha. As per media articles, the FBI had reportedly questioned him on his involvement in the October 2016 attacks, and in December 2017 Paras Jha and co-authors Josiah White & Dalton Norman entered a guilty plea to crimes relating to the Mirai botnet. According to Krebs’ article, the judge had given Paras and each of his co-defendants’ sentences of five years probation, 2,500 hours of community service, and $127,000 in fines. Jha’s sentence was later changed to remaining sequestered in his parent’s New Jersey home for the next six months and an additional 2,500 hours of community service. Additionally, he is on the hook to pay $8.6 million in restitution. Read on to find out how an entire country had no access to social media!

Year Long Social Media Outage

Starting in March 2018 and lasting 16 months, Chad faced the longest social media blackout in African history. It was reported that only 6.5% of people had regular internet access. For that time, many were unable to interact with their loved ones, local businesses struggled to advertise online and journalists had to fight to get their voices heard. And the reason for it? The government had decided to impose the ban as a response to the growing disagreement from the people. Critics had accused the former president Idriss Déby of mass censorship. They had claimed that he was clinging to power and that the social media ban was his desperate attempt to silence the anti-government activists.

Myanmar Outage

Another country that is currently going through a similar thing as Chad is Myanmar and just like with most modern political conflicts, the internet is the key on the battlefield. In February 2021 when the military junta seized power one of their first moves was to suppress online dissent. At first, it was a few websites such as Facebook and WhatsApp as people used those to make campaigns and movements against the coup. Social influencers and other people who wrote articles against the coup had been arrested and most of the websites of the news agencies and social media that staged against the coup were blocked. Then in March the leader quickly worked to shut off all mobile data in the country and wireless broadband soon followed. According to the most recent media reports available, not much has changed with regards to internet access in the country.

Rebels Block Web Access In Yemen

For a while now the world watched one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today happen in Yemen. The Houthi rebels have been in a devastating battle with Saudi-led coalition forces since 2015. But those rebels have been known to use the internet as a weapon and plunged the country into a web blackout. In July 2018, 80% of internet users were left without access to the internet after the forces severed the country’s main fiber optic cable. They did so while strengthening their defenses in the Red Sea port of Hodeidah.

India’s Long Internet Troubles

While we’ve mentioned a few countries that had their internet access blocked one way or another, there is one that has had it blocked more than any other country. And that is, India. The blackouts had first begun in 2019 around the same time that the government introduced a contentious citizenship law. Since that moment the country had seen a rise in protestors who wanted to take a stand against the Hindu nationalist regime and so the government responded in the way the previously mentioned ones had; by suspending the internet. They have done that several times, as they claimed it is essential to “keep the peace”. But many Indians have accused officials of attacking their free speech. However, out of all of the country’s blackouts, the most prominent ones occurred after Modi’s government shut down services in the regions of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. For 18 months, 13 million people were left stranded until it was finally restored in February 2021.

The World’s First Cyber Attack

We have talked a lot about hacking and internet blackouts but do you know who was behind the first cyber attack in the world as well as inventing the aforementioned DDoS attack? Well, it was a 23-year-old Cornell graduate student Robert Tappan Morris. Though it was all by accident! In 1988 he was working on a way to measure the size of the internet. But he did much more than that. Morris created a program that would in a way jump from computer to computer, counting each one. And every time his program would enter a new machine it would send a brief signal back to a central server that was keeping count. But it was there that trouble began as the program, that became known as the Morris worm, had spread too quickly and ended up clogging up much of the web. This bug then tore through the internet, copying itself between each device and then pinging back Robert’s server. And this is how his desire to do some research ended up accidentally inventing the DDoS attack and bringing the internet to its knees. While this might have been an honest mistake Morris had to answer for his actions and in 1989 he was indicted for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and was the first person to actually be indicted under this act. In December the following year, he was sentenced to three years of probation, 400 hours of community service, and a fine of $10,050.

Failed Attempts

While there have been successful attempts to shut down the internet, there had also been some that failed. And one of those that didn’t necessarily succeed involved three scuba divers who were arrested off the port of Alexandria after they attempted to slice through an undersea internet cable and bring down the Egyptian web! The country’s coastguard had intercepted the team before any real damage was done. At the time of the attack, Egyptian online traffic was connected to Europe via eight cables so cutting one would not have destroyed the web but it would have caused a deal of disturbance. The men refused to reveal what the motive for their foiled attack was or if they were working with anyone.

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