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What will happen to Bitcoin if the Internet goes down?

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Due to the ever-increasing expansion of Internet applications and its entanglement with all of our lives and the subsequent advancement of network equipment, the possibility of widespread Internet outage seems very low; But this is not impossible. Internet can still go down for many reasons. Factors such as war and country restrictions and physical damage may eventually lead to at least a temporary interruption of the Internet.

Even if we consider such an event to be completely impossible, it is useful to examine this hypothetical scenario in its simplest form and review its impact on Bitcoin. We know that the Internet is the main platform for Bitcoin and any other digital currency. It is the Internet that has turned Bitcoin into a digital currency and made it possible to mine and trade it; Therefore, its interruption may cause irreparable losses for users.

In this article, we intend to help an article From the Sharecast website, let’s first examine the possible scenarios that could lead to an internet outage, and then take a look at the consequences of an internet outage for Bitcoin. Stay with us until the end of the article.

Scenarios that can lead to internet outages

The Internet is designed to be robust, distributed, and fault-tolerant; But there are still factors that may cause problems in the operation of this network on a large scale. In this section, we review 4 scenarios that are likely to lead to internet disconnection.

Possible reasons for internet outages

Space weather

When you’re using the internet and surfing the web, you probably don’t think about what’s happening on the surface of the sun 92 million miles away; But it is not bad to know that solar flares are one of the serious threats to our communication systems.

Consider satellite failure. One afternoon in 1998, the Galaxy 4 satellite, a $250 million satellite floating 35,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, suddenly went out of control. Experts called the main reason for this incident “solar flare”. The sun was rising at the time and several other satellites (belonging to Germany, Japan, NASA and Motorola) all went down at the same moment.

The effects of this solar flare were immediate and global; So that 80% of the pagers immediately stopped working and doctors and managers and salespeople all over the United States suddenly realized that they were no longer receiving pages and even services such as NPR, CBS, Direct PC Internet and Dozens of other services were also stopped. It is estimated that in recent years, at least 12 satellites have been destroyed due to the effects of space weather.

However, it’s not just the satellites that we have to worry about. When a massive solar flare erupts on the Sun, it may cause geomagnetic storms on Earth. The biggest solar storm ever recorded was in 1859. The storm, also known as the “Carrington Flame”, caused severe damage to telegraph wires across Europe and America.

Since then, the technology used by the entire Earth has changed. What would happen if we ever had another solar flare that size? The answer is clear to space physicists and electrical engineers: A solar flare like this would blow out transformers and knock out our computer systems. In a minor disturbance in 1989, an electromagnetic storm knocked out power across the Canadian province of Quebec and halted the Toronto stock market for three hours.

So, a major solar event could theoretically take down the entire Internet; What earthquakes, bombs and terrorism cannot do. Such an event may be caused by a solar flare within a few moments.

cyber attacks

Some of the current wars, and most of the future wars, will be fought less often with soldiers fighting on the battlefield. These wars will often be led by cyber-attacks and experts who are more proficient in network science. As our dependence on the network increases day by day, so do our vulnerabilities.

When we examine physical conflicts between two countries (for example, the recent war between Russia and Ukraine), we find that the escalation of violence in the real world is immediately mirrored by warfare in cyberspace. The main targets in cyber warfare are mainly military targets. Attacking critical infrastructures and even temporarily disabling them will cause more damage to the enemy’s economy than killing a large number of soldiers of a country.

Since the dawn of the computer age in the 1960s, computer viruses have existed: programs that attach to a host system to reproduce themselves and send new copies to other computers. Just as viruses like corona have grown in biology, computers have also evolved in complexity, and computer viruses have become more advanced as a result. In addition to viruses, there are also worms that do not even need a host computer and can easily reproduce in networks.

That being said, are these attacks only a minor potential concern? The logical answer is “no, such risks are quite possible in the real world”; Therefore, it is not surprising that the future war has not only military and industrial goals; Rather, it targets internet connectivity for the general public. If a country wants to destroy its enemy, it starts by destroying its internet network.

Political restrictions

Egypt cut off people’s access to the Internet during its revolution in early 2011. China has also imposed restrictions on internet access; But it’s not just countries like Egypt and China that are thinking about this kind of web control. On June 24, 2010, the Homeland Security Committee of the United States Senate passed a bill authorizing the President to use the “internet kill switch”.

The Cyberspace Protection Act, as a national law in the United States, gives the president emergency authority to shut down private or government sector networks in the event of a cyber attack that could lead to widespread damage or loss of life.

Bruce Schneier, a security professor, examines the possibility of shutting down the Internet for political reasons and lists at least 3 problems with this issue:

1. The first problem is that the hope for a completely solid electronic infrastructure is illusory; Because there will always be hundreds of ways for enemies to bypass the systems. No country or legal order can close all the ways of infiltration;

2. The second problem is that we cannot completely predict the effects of an internet outage. Schneier says: “The Internet is the most complex machine that mankind has ever built, and turning off parts of it can have unforeseen side effects in various dimensions”;

3. The third problem is the security hole created by the design of the Internet disconnection tool. When a built-in tool is built to disrupt the Internet, why would a cyber attacker focus their efforts on anything else? He will directly attack the same instrument.

Disconnection of cables

Although satellites are also used for Internet traffic, more than 90 percent of the world’s web traffic still depends on networks powered by undersea fiber optic cables. These cables cover the ocean floor like a nervous system. These networks, especially at certain points, are considered as the main physical objective in the war. This is not just a theoretical prediction; Because underwater networks are really one of the main targets in wars.

Three-quarters of the international communications between the Middle East and Europe are carried out through two submarine cables: one is the SeaMeWe-4 cable and the other is the Europe-Asia FLAG Telecom cable. On January 30, 2008, these cables were cut, severely disrupting internet and telephone traffic from India to Egypt.

It is not yet clear how and by whom the cables were cut, and it is not clear how many cables were cut to cause such a disturbance. Some news reports indicate that at least eight cables have been cut. Initial speculations indicated that these outages were due to the ship’s anchor; But video analysis showed that there were no ships in the area from 12 hours before to 12 hours after the outage.

The disconnection of those cables was the beginning of the journey. A few days later, on February 1, 2008, the FLAG Falcon cable was severed under the waters of the Persian Gulf, 55 miles off the coast of Dubai. Also on February 3, the cable between the United Arab Emirates and Qatar was cut. On February 4, Khaleej Times reported that two more cables, one in the Persian Gulf near Iran and one SeaMeWe4 cable off the coast of Malaysia, were also cut.

It is not yet clear who exactly did all these things; But whatever the truth behind this incident, we see that if the government or organization wants to damage the communications of a country on a large scale, it is not impossible. Whether the attack is from terrorists, governments or cyber pirates, the fact is that such weaknesses in the Internet connection chain are considered a serious threat.

Internet Implications for Bitcoin

Bitcoin is the result of the growth and expansion of the Internet; Therefore, the internet outage will be expensive for Bitcoin users and activists in this field. Spending even a day without internet access can cost bitcoin miners, exchanges, and traders millions of dollars. Next, we review some of the major implications of the Internet outage for Bitcoin.

Miners stop working

Miners need internet access to sync with the blockchain and send reports of each block they mine. It is worth mentioning that you can mine Bitcoin when you are separated from the main network; But in this case, as a miner, you have only created a local blockchain and do not have access to the main network.

In this case, this blockchain will be useless; Because it’s just your local network. Your blockchain will be much shorter than the original; Unless you have massive amounts of hash power. Therefore, none of your hashing operations will do much good either.

The Bitcoin network cannot function

The Bitcoin network distributes ledger transactions among thousands of computers on the network. This means that if the internet goes down, the computers will lose communication with each other. However, this outage will not affect the content of the ledger on the blockchain.

The internet's definitive impact on bitcoin

In the event of an internet outage, the Bitcoin blockchain will immediately stop synchronizing and recording the Bitcoin transaction ledger, leading to a temporary interruption in transaction processing. If transactions are resynchronized, network activity resumes. In case of inconsistency, users can update their blockchain or leave the network. Also, due to the network interruption, users cannot make bitcoin transactions during that period; But as soon as the internet is back on, activities can resume.

Is the Bitcoin network dying?

The multifaceted impact of the Internet on Bitcoin is undeniable. The Internet enables data flow of transactions and interactions between users. The Internet brings to Armaghan the main infrastructure to enable Bitcoin exchange across international borders. In fact, it is the Internet that turns Bitcoin into a digital currency and allows users to use it for transactions and as a means of buying goods and services.

While not having internet access significantly limits sending and receiving bitcoins, transactions can still be made through offline alternatives. For example, some companies such as 37coins have proposed the use of SMS wallets for Bitcoin exchanges. These services support the transmission of transaction data through text messages to an Internet-enabled device.

Also, some experts have pointed out that Blockstream satellites can facilitate the use of Bitcoin without the Internet. This option requires special equipment to receive the signal. However, in this context, the initial synchronization must be done through the Internet. Rebroadcasting Wi-Fi waves can also be an alternative for processing Bitcoin transactions without internet access. This process allows offline verification of the blockchain and distribution of Bitcoin data only within a limited region or community.

Conclusion

In today’s world, the Internet has become one of the main parts of everyone’s life. A widespread internet outage may be a nightmare for today’s advanced world; But for the reasons we have mentioned in this article, it is possible.

Along with the Internet, Bitcoin and the digital currency industry in general are developing day by day and attracting more users from all over the world. Considering that the Internet is the main platform for the development of digital currencies, in this article, we examined the definite effect of the Internet on Bitcoin. Bitcoin transactions rely heavily on the Internet to transmit data to miners. In fact, digital currency trading requires the existence of the global Internet.

However, if the internet goes down, people won’t completely stop using Bitcoin; Because there are other alternatives, albeit in much more limited dimensions, in some countries that users can still use to make Bitcoin transactions in the absence of the Internet. These arrangements are planned for short-term outages in some countries, and the clear issue is that the widespread activity of digital currency users will always require the existence of global and international Internet.

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