Contributed by: David Stalcup, Chief Technical Architect on June 23, 2020.

What if the Internet Collapsed? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a change in the normal workday for the majority of the workforce . As a result, businesses have had to adapt to new operations as employees work from home. While virtually every industry or field of work today requires or relies on an online connection, the past few months have demonstrated our dependency on the internet as a whole — and the need for quality connectivity. But what would we have done if this was happening 30, 20, or even just 10 years ago? Or worse – what would happen if the internet suddenly shut down? 

Through all of this, we’re witnessing some applications and businesses struggling to handle a spike in usage and volume. Web-based meeting software Zoom has had issues with outages and security breaches. Online video streaming services like Netflix have had to downgrade their video quality to prevent networks from becoming overwhelmed. 

These, of course, are just a few instances that don’t drastically affect day-to-day life. But it certainly has us wondering: What would happen if the entire internet went out? And as a business, what plans or data protection solutions should you have in place should there ever be a massive internet collapse? 

The impact of internet outages on businesses

With over 4.33 billion internet users around the globe, it’s almost impossible to imagine the kind of toll a widescale internet outage would take on businesses. Banking, hospitals, military, commerce, and virtually every industry relies on the internet and data for productivity. While there’s no way to measure the kind of damage an internet outage would cause, it’s safe to say it would likely be immeasurable.

For starters, internet outages are expected to cost small businesses $40 billion just in 2020 alone. Now, imagine that number for larger companies or corporations — and an outage lasting much longer than a few hours of downtime here and there. With almost every aspect of business relying on the internet, from payment and payroll processing to digital marketing to supply chain management, the damage caused by lost internet would be irreversible. That’s also not to mention the loss of customers, data, and reputation.

How to protect your business from internet outages

While it’s highly unlikely the entire internet will go out across the entire globe, businesses are still susceptible to recurring outages or breaches, resulting in costly downtime. That’s why it’s important to have a solid plan of protection in place should that ever happen to you in the future.

First, you should work with a trusted security partner to develop a business continuity (BC) plan, which is an all-encompassing strategy for an organization to survive during physical or environmental strife. A key component of a BC plan is to prioritize data and segregate it into silos of value. That’s because it focuses a greater effort on data durability for the most critical data for an organization. 

Another element of a BC plan is maintaining data protection schemes and ensuring application availability for the most critical apps. The premise of priority should be extended to your organization’s personnel, ensuring key performers have access to critical applications and network connectivity. 

Before the pandemic, the thought of network availability was typically confined to data centers or strategic VPN’s. But an all-encompassing BC plan will address the need for redundant connectivity for the highest priority in a specific workforce. 

Here’s what redundancy strategies and solutions should look like for you and your business: 

  • Redundant infrastructure to support all business-critical applications
  • Redundant data protection scheme to support critical business functions (like backup, replication, and security)
  • Prioritized workforce to keep core components of the organization operational
  • Redundant and alternative communication systems (email, messaging, chat, telephone)
  • A mobility plan to migrate a subset of your workforce to a different location

The future of the internet and businesses

While the future of the pandemic is still unclear, we do know some things about the future of the internet. Emerging technology like 5G will provide a crucial role in guaranteeing internet access in the future. It is already thriving in numerous major urban areas and will continue to spread across the US. This resilient and affordable connectivity will provide the redundancy necessary for a highly mobile and dispersed workforce to thrive during challenging times like the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

Before implementing or adopting new technologies, however, businesses should always carefully examine potential risks. Through effective risk mitigation, your security team or partner can look at all the possible vulnerabilities an organization faces. From there, they can create appropriate actions to ensure your business continues to operate normally should anything happen to internet signals or access.

Turn to Sanity Solutions for stability through uncertainty

While personal protection is at the forefront of everyone’s minds during this pandemic, your business deserves consideration, too. As a trusted security partner to small and large companies alike, we provide stability, expertise, and top-tier data protection and security solutions. When you’re ready to secure the future of your company (and its connectivity), contact us. We’re ready to help.