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Worse Thing That Happened On The Internet In 2021

Bryan Badger avatar
Written by Bryan Badger posted on Jan 3, 2022

HARO has been a go-to source for helpful queries that I think my clients will find interesting. I always choose a question discriminately to provide my customers with valuable information for deeper insights that touch on their businesses and help them solve everyday challenges.

Here's a question I recently chose from one of the HARO journalists: Technology professionals share your stories: What's the worst thing that happened on the internet in 2021? Why was the internet a mistake?

First of all, there are plenty of reasons why the internet is NOT a mistake. I believe it is one of the most powerful tools ever created, a reliable platform where individuals and businesses can access critical information that spurs knowledge.

It cuts across all aspects of human life and the industrial realms. Some ways that the internet has positively impacted life include:

Rapid information dissemination and connectivity

Before the internet, people relied on various media to access information: newspapers, journals, television, etc. They could only find them in physical retail. But the World Wide Web has transformed communication by connecting to IoT devices.

Today, you need not waste time purchasing a hard copy. You can easily access emails (instead of letters) or leverage VOIP and chat to share wide-ranging media with people throughout the world within seconds.

Internet for business

The internet has also opened business opportunities, helping people create eCommerce stores and business websites to sell, market, and advertise their products and services 24/7. Besides, it provides money-making opportunities in many ways, like affiliate marketing.

Knowledge and learning

You can now access information on topics or queries you may have from the internet at any time. SERPs like Google Chrome, Bing, and DuckDuckGo, let you enter questions and access website pages that offer solutions to your problems. Not to mention the plethora of online courses that help people learn and even obtain certifications in various fields.

These are only but a few advantages of the internet, and I can go on and on about how it has changed:

  1. Banking, billing, and shopping
  2. Mapping and contact information through GPS Technology
  3. Entertainment; and
  4. Remote working, networking, and global workforce integration

But the big question is:

What are the worst things to happen on/to the internet?

Despite the many ways that the internet has made our socio-economic life better, it has had its downsides:

Over-dependence on it 

People have grown increasingly over-reliant on the internet, which is a drawback to many businesses, especially those dependent on cloud-based content distribution networks (CDNs). Undoubtedly, CDNs enable high-quality, reliable, and rapid content and data delivery channels, but our dependence on them has reduced our ability to respond to any issues that may cause disruptions.

Major outages among bigwig CDN providers have led to problems among various backbone providers. For instance, Amazon Web Services (AWS) went down hard in December 2021, disrupting virtually half of the country's online business world. Turnstiles, mobile food-ordering at Walt Disney World, and Azure are currently experiencing issues, causing these businesses to lose money-making opportunities.

Security-related problems 

Another serious bad thing that has come out about the internet is cyber-crime, and it is now commonplace because of the constant connectivity that the internet offers today. It has forced companies to hire cyber security professionals who work around the clock to protect critical data within computer systems.

The threat also trickles down to individuals because they store critical personal data on their smart devices while using insecure public networks. Most of these security-related issues are motivated by money, and they include:

  • Malware (spyware, ransomware, viruses, and worms)
  • Emotet
  • Man in the Middle (MITM)
  • Social engineering hacks
  • Spread of misinformation
  • Data phishing
  • Password attacks

Social media and the spread of unverified information

Social media are perhaps the absolute worst thing that has ever happened because of the internet (and why it might, after all, be a mistake). Social media connect people and allow them to share and seek information rapidly.

We often find unfiltered, ground-breaking, sensitive news on social media first. The details are often shared across the globe within minutes, whether or not it's verified or not. That opens opportunities for adversaries who leverage social media spread false information using fake accounts, big data, bots, and trolls. The result is confusion, misinformation, and a vulnerable society.

Here in the US, we've heard widespread cases of blatant censorship like Facebook Jail and Twitter-account deletions that drastically erode our Freedom of Speech. Furthermore, algorithms designed to spread negative political agendas and narratives have risen. In 2016, "fake news" made rounds on social media to intentionally present false news claims that mislead the masses.

Platforms like TikTok spread viral videos indiscriminately without considering the repercussions on our kids. Gone is the era when a kid could trip in a hallway and only walk away unembarrassed. Today, such an incident is captured on a smartphone, shared across the school, and within minutes, the world is commenting.

What was the worst thing to happen to the Internet in 2021?

Last year was a memorable year. The world has witnessed some of the most unfortunate events taking place online. There's a long list of worst things that happened to the internet in 2021, from the Capitol Hill riots catalyzed by Facebook and Russia's blocking the tech companies in March to Internet Outages.

Countries suppressing information

Access to information isn't free as it was initially. Countries and big tech companies have been clashing for the better part of the year blocking content access by the public.

In March 2020, Russia threatened to limit Twitter, Facebook, and Google if they don't adhere to its internet regulation policies. The country's communication regulatory agency, Roskomnadzor, ordered the Silicon Valley companies to block any illegal content or restore pro-Kremlin information lest they face restrictions within the country. As a result of the companies' failure to meet Russia's demands, users were barred from accessing and sharing information on these sites.

Cuba went offline for over 30 minutes in early July after the government blocked virtual private networks and major communications apps following widespread protest due to an economic meltdown and health crisis. Citizens were blocked from communicating through WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram apps. Other countries that resorted to limiting internet access during protests include Venezuela and Iran.

Tech companies experiencing outages

Facebook, one of the world's largest social media platforms, crashed on 4 October 2021, bringing communication access to a halt for over five hours, The outage also affected its sister companies like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. According to the company's spokesperson, the problem was caused by a configuration change within one of its major routers that facilitated information flow between its data center.

Another internet outage came in December 2021, when Amazon Web Services (AWS) experienced three shutdowns. During that time, critical AWS-dependent apps, such as Disney+, Venmo, McDonald's, and many others, experienced unexpected downtime. That significantly halted their eCommerce and money-generating opportunities. In fact, the Downdetector homepage was dominated by red spikes, indicating simultaneous outages.

AWS is Amazon's cloud-computing division, the largest of its kind, followed by Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. All these apps rely on AWS to store their data and provide reliable CDN solutions. That means that if any of these cloud storage companies experience an outage, then online activities and businesses go with it.

Better to be safe than sorry

With services becoming increasingly web-based, data is being generated at an incredible rate and stored online. Considering the growing interconnection between computer hubs across the US and the globe, it's clear that these internet outages aren't going away any time soon. Worse still, the internet provides malicious hackers and ransomware purveyors with an avenue to perform cyber-attacks.

Still, people continue to adopt a tech-savvier life with mobile-first functionality. For instance, Apple now integrates drivers' licenses, home and car keys, and vaccination certificates into iPhones. The caveat is that the end-user isn't the least concerned about the technology facilitating that. These solutions make our lives convenient and easier, but it is critical to understand that they'll not always be there.

Having an action plan helps counter these internet-related issues

Having a backup plan is the most effective way of dealing with damaging internet outages. I work for an outsourced cyber security company, and thus, we used a password manager hosted on an AWS cloud-based platform. Then the multiple outages in December occurred, which halted our business process and compromised our consumer experience. Two of our call centers, customer helpdesk and engineers, couldn't access our customers' passwords.

That experience compelled me to look for a backup solution. I began a practice of exporting our passwords at the start of every month and the storeing in an encrypted company's database. The practice prevents our business from crushing along with others due to internet outages because we can quickly and readily access our clients during these unprecedented events.

What's important to you and what can you do to avoid losing business due to these outages?

If you're concerned about internet outages and would like reliable backup systems for your computer data, contact Integral Networks today! We provide customized managed IT services for work flexibility and top-notch cybersecurity.

Thanks to my friends at Orion Networks in Maryland for their help with this article. Discover more at https://www.orionnetworks.net/it-support-in-maryland/

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