U.S. researchers who simulated a terrorist attack on various physical components enabling internet connectivity in the United States have found that it would be very difficult to cause major disruptions.
The scientists said that though a destruction of some key parts could seriously degrade Internet quality, it was very difficult to cause major disruptions across the country as it is almost impossible to destroy all the physical components, which are scattered widely across the various graphical locations.
"When it comes to the Internet, there is strength in numbers. There are so many interconnections within the network that it would be difficult to find enough targets, and the right targets, to do serious damage to Internet reliability nationwide," said Morton O’Kelly, co-author of the study and professor of geography at Ohio State University.
For their research, the scientists developed computer simulations in which they studied a simplified nationwide Internet network.
The researcher used just five of the more than 30 major commercial Internet backbone providers, and three of the nation’s major public access points-Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco.
The researchers concluded that overall the Internet has a great resilience against accidental disruption or even targeted attacks by terrorists.
"There is a rich web of connections in these Internet nodes, and a hit on a single city node or even several of them is not likely to wipe out Internet connectivity. That’s not to say major damage cannot be done, but it would be very difficult," O’Kelly said.
O’Kelly noted that this study used a simplified model of the Internet, which means the strength of the entire network is probably even greater than what they found.
"If our simple model was resilient to damage, the real Internet would be much better off because it has so many more hubs and links than we had in our study," he said.