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Cyber Armageddon

Robert W. Lucky reflects on the latest fashion in end-of-the-world scenarios

3 min read

I ran across one of those the-end-is-near cartoons. A scruffy person holds a sign that says "The World Will End in 2000"—except the "2000" is crossed out and amended to "2012." The many dire predictions about cyberwar feel a lot like that. The word has shown up frequently on magazine newsstands this summer—but, my editor reminds me, it was also on the cover of Time back in August 1995.

I've had the opportunity to listen to lots of smart people about the cyber problem, and to be honest, I don't know what conclusion to draw. My fear is that no one else knows, either. There is no lack of information about how bad the problem is, but there is almost nothing written about what to do about it. In the end, I believe it comes down to intelligent risk management—something we're not often good at.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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