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Computer Savvy, Diabolical Minds Needed

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Hi guys,

I'm working on a YA novel that is kind of a tribute to the Twilight Zone and am in the midst of a story about a group that at one point tries to destroy the internet. I am unfortunately very computer illiterate in regards to anything involving networks, ISPs, coding, etc.

I have learned thus far that this would be impossible to accomplish barring nuclear warfare or somehow accomplishing this: http://gizmodo.com/5912383/how-to-destroy-the-internet .

So while the real story lies in this fringe group's effects on the young protagonist, I still want to have the plan be somewhat plausible, i.e. not just activating a mystical global killswitch.

If anyone IT-minded would indulge in a little musing on how this "could" be carried out, I would be very grateful and my work would be better off for it.

As it stands, the group's plan is extraordinarily vague and involves a virus taking over the 10k or so ISPs.

Cheers!
#1 - January 29, 2015, 05:59 AM

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Hey Aleksander!
Taking down the net is tricky as the original purpose of the Internet is to keep computers up and running in case of any sort of disaster. However, there are ways to disrupt the net and sections of the Internet. It would be helpful to know why they are trying to destroy the net (kill people's access to information? Take over the sources of information? throw everyone back to the age before computers?) and to know what sort of computer power this fringe group would have access to (have they built a super computer of slave computer? do they have access to a supercomputer?). However, even without all those details there are a few things ranging from low tech (power surges take down nodes) to cutting or damaging underwater cables like the 2008 disruptions (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_submarine_cable_disruption) to really high tech like the Stuxnet worm (see http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/10/tech/web/internet-down-eagleman/) or a virus, which you've already got, that could really cause some disruptions.

Also, you might find this fun and/or helpful: http://www.outageanalyzer.com This site tracks internet outages in real time. Not sure if your protag could use this or not, but thought I'd throw it in there.

I'm not sure if any of this is really helpful, but hopefully it will at least spark an idea for you!

Although, now that I've thought about it, being a little vague is probably a good idea since all of this sort of thing can change so quickly. There is an adult thriller writer who is also a Microsoft employee --so sorry, can't think of his name right now -- who writes computer security thrillers. You might want to check out one of his books to see how he handles the technical aspects (he's got real terms and plausible scenarios but is a little vague about the exact ways that things happen). If I think of it in a minute I'll add it...

Good luck! Sounds like a fun story!
#2 - January 29, 2015, 07:42 AM
« Last Edit: January 29, 2015, 07:52 AM by writerhoo »

Hi Writerhoo,

Thanks so much for the response - that is exactly the kind of info I was hoping for.

To add some details -- The group owns a large chunk of ISPs in the US so they've got the resoures (including $) to do almost anything. They are an extremist group that wants to have a monopoly on information and let the rest of the world crumble.

I'm reading up on stuxnet now, and also learned about another interesting real-life case: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/nov/18/china-internet-traffic-hijack

If you remember the author's name, please let me know and thanks again!
#3 - January 30, 2015, 08:11 AM

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Aleksander,
Mark Russinovich is the Microsoft employee who writes cyber thrillers. They are adult books but may help you figure out how to handle the technical stuff. Have fun!
#4 - January 31, 2015, 07:40 AM

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