Panix Attack

How New York City's oldest Internet service provider was hijacked and rescued

11 min read

2 February 2005--It's 4:30 a.m. Do you know where your Internet address is? At about that time on 15 January, Alexis Rosen, owner of Public Access Networks Corp., New York City's oldest Internet service provider (ISP), and its flagship domain panix.com, certainly didn't. It was at that early hour that he first discovered that his company's Internet address and its entire business had been stolen in the night. Rosen's first thoughts were unprintable.

Panix.com's disappearance, while not the first cyberattack of its kind, was unusual, and different from the virus or denial-of-service attacks that have hit companies like eBay, Amazon, and Microsoft in years past. Those succeeded by overwhelming servers with data. In this case, Panix had complete control of its servers and systems. Instead, the domain name itself, panix.com, became dissociated from the four-part numerical address that is the actual means by which packets of data make their way to it on the Internet.

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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
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Carl De Torres
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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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