Scientists have claimed a strong solar storm could see the internet go down for days or even months.
A new study – which comes from Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine – has explored how a strong enough storm with less than a day’s notice could wipe out internet access for entire continents.
Jyothi noted that undesea cables are vulnerable to a huge solar flare similar to those which hit the Earth in both the 1800s and early 1990s.
Before presenting the paper at the SIGCOMM 2021 conference, she told Wired: “What really got me thinking about this is that with the pandemic we saw how unprepared the world was.
“There was no protocol to deal with it effectively, and it’s the same with internet resilience.
“Our infrastructure is not prepared for a large-scale solar event. We have very limited understanding of what the extent of the damage would be.”
While such an event could cause big issues for technology, it should be noted that solar storms don’t pose a serious or direct threat to life.
In her paper, Jyothi added: “The economic impact of an Internet disruption for a day in the US is estimated to be over $7 billion. “What if the network remains non-functional for days or even months?”