Back to Back Issues Page
English Detective #80 Could the Internet fail? 3-14-17
March 14, 2017

#80 Could the Internet fail? 3-14-17

Could the internet fail? Experts disagree, but several warn of various dangers internet users (and the whole internet community) need to consider.

We’ve had several internet outages at our house in the past month or so. I remembered a TED talk from 2013, warning that we need a “Plan B” to avoid major disruptions— or worse—if something or someone prevents the internet from functioning for a longer time. I wondered what had been done since then to provide backup internet protection.

What I found was not encouraging. At least one expert answered that talk by reassuring people that there were good back-up systems in place, but others say we are still unprepared and quite vulnerable.

Here are three discussions about it, one from Business Insider, then an article on a short outage that suggested businesses could cope with a few days offline from the BBC, and another longer and much less optimistic BBC article called How to Break the Internet.

Most of these articles are long but not difficult reading. Wired offered a much shorter summary of the original TED talk immediately after it was given.

After reading several of these articles, how would you answer? (If you would like to give your opinion, just ‘reply’ to this newsletter. I will give a summary of any answers in the first April English Detective.)

Meanwhile, check out the Internet vocabulary below (links to some basic terms to practice, and then definitions of words important to understand the articles above.)


To practice basic Internet vocabulary, see two lists on Quizlet: 24 basic terms, and another 24 mainly different words that are also important. Besides the definitions with pronunciation, Quizlet has several games to match words and definitions.

Some less common words, or words especially important for understanding this newsletter’s reading selections, are defined below.

ddos (distributed denial of service attacks) – a huge number of messages sent to particular servers with the purpose of overloading them so they cannot provide services (send messages) as they were designed to.

disruption- an interruption or disturbance that prevents smooth functioning

disseminate- to spread

huge, enormous, or massive- very, very big

malware- malicious software designed to control or damage computers

network- a group of connections

outage— a loss of power

ransomeware- malware designed to hold personal data or photos hostage— to force people to pay a ransom to get them back

route- a path or way to get from one place to another; router- a machine that directs traffic onto the best paths

secure- protected, safe

A note if you get gmail: Have you missed any issues of English Detective? if you find English Detective in your Promotions box, you can move it to your Primary box (if you want) by clicking on it and dragging it there, then clicking Yes when asked if you want to always get it in the Primary box.

If you are not already getting English Detective, you can subscribe by completing the form here. (It's free!) Also, you can reach me by mail at 1752 Driftwood Drive, El Centro, CA 92243, USA.
Back to Back Issues Page