Spooky tale: Internet shutdown

Can you imagine social media, a crucial part of the internet, going down? Spooky Halloween story you’ll say, right? But in early October we already saw that it’s no joke or creepy tale, but unfortunately a very possible reality. Facebook’s record-breaking blackout (October 4, 2021) made many concerned. The question is what if we’ve been using social media incorrectly?

Today’s mega-corporations own whole pieces of the internet (Facebook – Instagram and WhatsApp, Google – Gmail and YouTube). If one of the services goes down, others usually go down as well, as confirmed by previous multiple incidents.

That means, your working process can be interrupted, private conversations halted, stored documents and media files can disappear at the snap of the fingers. October’s blackout is the longest to this date (more than 7 hours without social networks and messengers), but who can predict in what situation we’ll find ourselves into.

Disconnecting the Internet causes problems for all users
Disconnecting the Internet causes problems for all users

The upcoming year is the very year when, as predicted in “Blade Runner 2049”, all electronic data on the West will be suddenly wiped out. Are you prepared for this? If not, check out the tips below and find out how to avoid putting eggs in one basket and stay connected when services go down.

Mistake #1

Being too tied to a single company’s infrastructure.

Why

Apps that belong to a single owner are most likely to be placed on the same hardware. So, by communicating, working, and sharing through such services only, you are at risk of losing the whole area of your life, yes, temporarily, but it can cost a lot.

Solution

Diversify your social presence and don’t be limited to one messenger. Always have alternative ways to communicate with your friends, customers or colleagues. If you are using, say WhatsApp and Zoom, be also sure you can find them in Skype and Telegram if needed. Use at least one independent social media account (for example, Twitter besides Facebook).

Mistake #2

Having important backups in the cloud only.

Why

GoogleDocs and similar cloud services made us very lazy and dependent on big company’s infrastructure, which we can’t really control. Files that “live” online can be erased by accident or stolen at any minute.

Solution

Do regular backups on a hard drive or an external device. If apps and services store content that is important to your or is required for work purposes, save it and do regular backups, if possible. Just in case.

Mistake #3

Using social media login for authentication on other websites.

Why

When registering on a website, you always have two choices – (1) can create a profile by entering an email address and password, or (2) rely on the so-called “Third Party Login”. If that “third party” (authentication via social networks or a Google account) goes down, you won’t be able to log in until the issue is fixed.

Solution

Create new accounts with logins and passwords when registering on websites that are important to you. This will also allow you to share less data with corporations that will then use it for advertising.

Mistake #4

Being impatient and vulnerable to phishing.

Why

Let’s imagine that the next big blackout will be not for 7 hours, but 17. Or even longer. A huge swarm of anxious people will constantly check their mail (or other channels) for updates on the blackout situation. This will be long enough for the most successful phishing attack ever, disguised as an urgent update about social networks. Users will eagerly click on such links which might result in downloading malware and even losing personal data. Another possible scenario: wait for the message or e-mail disguised as an important update from the government or city council.

Solution

Even in times of panic, keep your head cold and follow the common rules of anti-phishing. Don’t click on the suspicious links. Don’t open attachments. Stay calm and wait for legit updates.

Conclusion

Modern web technologies are irreplaceable and very convenient. We hand over to them all our worries and delegate tasks, allowing them to become full-fledged prostheses for our bodies. However, incidents like Facebook’s October crash (due to a small configuration error) show us that you really can’t trust technologies with your work and life. At least, you can’t – and shouldn’t trust it entirely, as many do without a blink every day.

In this dark night, there is a light of reason. Be reasonable and have a Happy Halloween!

Author: Nicolas Cuts

Product Managers at SwitcherryVPN. Have 5 years background in management and marketing. I never stop learning!

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