It was a bad day for the Internet. At some time that morning, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shut down, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) web site broke and the United Airlines halted all U.S. departures for about two hours due to a router failure.
All of these events are, most probably, not related, but it does cause one to wonder.
We are reaching a point where a very large percentage of what we do is controlled by technology, and when the tech fails, that segment of commerce grinds to a screeching halt.
As someone who has grown up during the “cyber revolution,” I find it very interesting to watch what young people do when the network is down. This especially struck me in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
We lost our power for a week (someone thought it would be a good idea to build the power station on the bank of a river), so we did what everyone would do in that situation – we tried to find a place to buy coffee. Our local shopping mall had backup power and a Starbucks, so off we went. What we found were entire families crouched around power outlets charging up their devices – it was, for me, a view of the post-apocalypse world.
I wonder if we have reached the tipping point in society, where everything that we do has some component of technology embedded in it and we can no longer function without it.
Right now, no one is claiming that these outages are the result of an attack of any type. However, with or without an external event of malicious intent, the bottom line is that many people were at a minimum inconvenienced or worse.
I am firmly in the camp that believes that the next war will not be fought with bullets, but with mouse clicks. I think that we should all be prepared for a time when we will need to go back to functioning without our “brains in a box” (this is what my wife and I call our phones and tablets). We have been painting this electronic floor for a while and I think that we are going to find out that we started at the door instead of the back wall.