Solar storms and cyber disaster: Why researcher feels „bad”

Recent discussions about the potential for „internet disaster” caused by solar storms have caught the attention of social media users. While the concept may sound like science fiction, experts say a widespread internet outage triggered by a powerful solar storm is a rare but plausible phenomenon. Concerns about the world’s preparedness are beginning to rise when the sun enters an active phase known as „solar maximum” in 2025.

As a result, when the sun evaporates too much, it releases energy into space. It can be in the form of solar flare, coronal mass ejection, solar wind etc. When it collides with Earth’s magnetic field, it immediately triggers a geomagnetic storm. While one result is beautiful auroras, another is the impact on power grids, satellites, internet infrastructure, even oil wells that may need to be shut down and more. If a solar storm is as powerful as the Carrington event of 1859, it can destroy satellites, power grids, and more. According to the Washington Post, the internet blackout could last for months reports.

Researcher sheds light on the need for Internet resilience

Sangeeta Abdu Jyoti, professor of computer science at the University of California, Irvine, has played a significant role in popularizing the term „Internet Apocalypse” through her Paper „Solar Superstorms: Planning for the Internet Apocalypse.” During the Covid-19 pandemic, Jyoti’s interest in cyber resilience was sparked when she realized society was unprepared for such a crisis. He noted a dearth of research on the topic of widespread Internet dysfunction, particularly in extreme cases.

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A severe solar storm could significantly affect large-scale infrastructure, including submarine communication cables (which carry much of our internet traffic), Jyoti asserts. Also, the concentration of internet infrastructure in northern latitudes makes it particularly vulnerable to solar storms. This feature has generally been overlooked until now.

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The effects of such malfunctions can be dire and last for months. Repairing the damage caused by these events depends on the amount and time required for restoration.

A researcher’s regret

However Jyoti reveals Sadness For coining the term „Internet Apocalypse” in his paper. She said she felt „bad” for using that phrase. However, the reason is important. He says that preparing for such an event falls primarily on governments and corporations, and that ordinary people have very few options. He also notes that his article unexpectedly received a lot of attention.

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