Thursday, July 15, 2021

If the Internet goes down, how will we communicate?


I'm by no means a conspiracy theorist.  Nevertheless, the increasing frequency of "Big Brother" forecasts or analyses, followed closely by action that uncannily resembles those forecasts or analyses, is very troubling.  The most obvious example is the Event 201 "global pandemic exercise", held about a year before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The similarities between the exercise's simulated events and responses to a pandemic, and the actual responses of world organizations and governments to COVID-19, have not been lost on many observers.  Some have speculated that Event 201 was a deliberate prequel to a man-made pandemic, planning measures to control the populace that could be implemented within a foreseeable timeframe.  "Fact-checkers" have declared that to be nonsense.  Conspiracy theory, or real conspiracy?  You be the judge.

Similar warnings are being bruited about concerning an annual cybersecurity exercise, Cyber Polygon.  The event is sponsored by the World Economic Forum (WEF) (the same organization that promotes the so-called "Great Reset" of world economies, imposing central control and diminishing national autonomy), its focus on internet security and control worries many - including yours truly.  When the head of the WEF publicly demands that we "immunize the internet", I don't get a warm fuzzy feeling about what he means.

The one thing one notices about totalitarian regimes throughout the world - China, Iran, Russia, North Korea and many others - is that they try to control what their citizens can access on the internet.  They don't want the free flow of information;  rather, they want to restrict it, so that their citizens get only the officially approved version of everything, and can't use the internet to organize themselves and exchange independent, uncensored information.  You'll note that when the current unrest broke out in Cuba, one of the first things the government of that country did was to shut down the internet.  Without that ease of communication, it became much more difficult for anti-government forces to organize and coordinate their efforts, and to spread news of the regime's crackdown on demonstrators.

When an organization like the WEF, already on the record as encouraging centralized control of the economy and actively campaigning against national independence, is actively engaged with so-called "internet security" issues, I have to ask . . . why?  Are they actually trying to develop and "war-game" scenarios whereby the internet can be controlled if necessary, preventing the free flow of information between those opposed to such centralized, inherently anti-democratic control?

Let's use our situation in the USA as an example.  Right now, the mainstream media is in the pocket of the Democratic Party and the Biden administration.  News favorable to or promoted by those sources is actively promoted;  news potentially harmful to them, or that doesn't accord with the "party line", is suppressed.  Instapundit has often commented, "Just think of the media as Democratic Party operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense".  It certainly does.

Alternative media are usually restricted to the internet to spread their news.  They don't have their own printing presses or television transmitters.  What if the internet were shut down, or censored in some way?  What if they were prevented from publishing news that the powers that be don't want published?  How would the rest of us learn about it?  A good example is the current investigations into electoral fraud in several states.  The mainstream media are universally panning them as unnecessary or fraudulent, while the Biden administration is weaponizing the Justice Department against them.  How would we know what they're uncovering (which is, to say the least, incriminating) without the efforts of alternative news media to publicize it?

There's also the issue of how any "resistance" will communicate if a central government decides to crack down on politically incorrect opposition.  How can opposition be coordinated, planned, and communicated if the easiest and fastest method to do so - the internet - is shut down or restricted?  We have to expect this as a very likely consequence, if the current "woke" revolutionaries decide to stamp out opposition to their insane "Big Brother knows best" propaganda.

There's also the factor that "Big Tech" is almost uniformly in the pocket of the Biden administration - or is it the other way around?  Either way, they are already restricting and censoring communication that isn't politically correct, when it comes to COVID-19, masks, vaccination, etc.  They actively campaigned against President Trump, and are still censoring his public communications and those of his most active supporters.  Even Google Translate, a service used by millions, has been accused of misinterpreting source material to produce a more politically correct translation.  We can't trust Big Tech not to manipulate the internet if asked to do so, or if they decide to do so on their own initiative.

There are, of course, more secure ways for those serious about privacy and security to communicate.  Some use the internet, some don't.  Many of us have used such methods for years to discuss sensitive matters.  However, they tend to be slower and more laborious than taking the easy route of using the internet.  I suspect many won't bother to go to that much effort.  They'd rather trust that the internet will always be available, and not bother to think further than that.

All I can say is, plan for the internet to go down in a crisis, or be taken down by the enemies of freedom and democracy.  That's already the case for millions of people in totalitarian societies.  As the left becomes more and more dictatorial, totalitarian and Big Brother-ish in America, there's no reason it can't happen here, too.

(If Google starts censoring Blogger, or this blog is removed for any reason, you'll find an alternate version on the Web if you look for it.  I've taken steps to preserve it, and get it up and running on an alternate site.  Look for the URL "bayou renaissance man dot com" [removing the spaces], or check with other blogs that may have links to it.  I'll hopefully be able to post links to their alternate sites as well.)



Unknown said...

The Taliban and Al Qaeda (amongst others) figured it out, where mistakes were met with JDAM's and SOF.

Sam L. said...

I don't KNOW if the media is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democrat Party, or if it's the other way round, but regardless, it's OBVIOUS that they are in CAHOOTS! I trust neither.

"If Google starts censoring Blogger..." My first blog of the day is Don Surber. Google/Blogger doesn't like my comments there...too often...

Stan_qaz said...

It is important to keep in mind there are several aspects to communications and all need to be addressed in a hostile environment.

The ability to communicate with others is the basic level.

Security of the contents, what you are communicating.

The secrecy of who you are communicating with.

This last item is often overlooked and with just this linking information intelligence service folks have been able to identify and roll up organizations while never being able to read a single message.

Peteforester said...

...Radio won't look so old fashioned anymore...

markshere2 said...

90% + of big truck traffic depends on Internet logging.

When the 'Net goes down, the big rigs pull over. Period.

This will cause a HUGE ripple effect throughout the USA.

They will come up with a workaround shortly, but the ripples will be catastrophic for many.

RustyGunner said...

For message traffic, radio works, and I’d be willing to bet that some descendant of the old Fidonet/Relaynet would still work over telephone networks. An updated version might include end-to-end encryption.

tweell said...

Gee, and I just renewed my ham radio license.

Rick said...

As previously mentioned, radio works. This would include, perhaps especially favored, older equipment. SSB, aka ham radio, will continue as long as there are operators and power supplies. In days of yore, across the Pacific Ocean we piggy backed on a Japanese AM station. (Being discreet will always be important.)

Of course, paper will continue as an important means. Leaflets have worked well throughout the ages. Here I do not mean distributed leaflets in the form of propaganda, but as a means of comms within a group and to like-minded persons outside the group.

Runners, even after travel is highly restricted, will be effective. Tagging physical property along routes works well. Think of the hobo network and the symbology. One may blend in in the wide open if they care to think how it is done. Being seen yet unseen allows one to carry a message far and wide. Some may poo-poo these ideas yet be surprised at the ease and rapidity in which it is possible to cover ground.

Even official travel (govt sanctioned) can be used to carry a message intended for like-minded groups. Our only limitation is our minds. History has provided us with many ideas, some which didn't work, all intended for communications across wide areas yet often designed only for selected use. Of course there is plain old hijacking the enemy's own communication network.

In the meanwhile, establishing a radio net with time schedules, trading contact information, location of individual AO should be prepared for when the ball drops. Even if it doesn't, think of how comms are established in the event of emergencies.

FYI: I think we have come to that time where a disclaimer of 'I'm not a conspiracy theorist' is unneeded.

Old NFO said...

Cuba/China took down the internet there the second day... And it's still down.

Night driver said...

OTP's (One Time Pad code techniques) NVIS ("Cloud Burners[ask an OLD HAM] and couriers.

SOME of these are less survivable than others.

Night Driver.

IgDotte said...

Yes, we need to immunize the 'net - and the rest of society - from any would-be tyrants. The best method would be public hangings, but it's certainly more economical to settle for injections. Long distance at first, for the psychological impact, followed by up-close and personal instruction in ethics, morals, and religious expectations re the afterlife. The old-style psychs were correct with their reward & punishment methods, and until we address the underlying motives, we will never rid ourselves of these pests.

Eric Wilner said...

Have to dig out my notes from a project-that-Never-Happened, many years ago.
Basic outline was a private wireless network, using rejiggered ISM-band radio hardware and variously-secured layers for access, routing, message addressing (single, group, or broadcast), and suchlike details. It was intended for a specific community that was somewhat spread out within the general suburban community, with further requirements about being able to deploy the comm system out in the countryside.
Wasn't meant for high-volume chatter, just a modest volume of mostly short, text-only messages. The hardware requirements were interesting (EMP resistance, for one thing).
Were I starting to build such a thing today, the starting point would likely be a ready-made LoRa module for the raw packet transmission; that gets a moderate amount of range, if not great EMP resistance when it's set up and operating.

Eric Wilner said...

Afterthought: I seem to recall that, a few years back, a group of Old School hackers was working on a robust, secure wireless mesh network, for deployment in various non-permissive environments. I don't remember what the project was called, nor who exactly was working on it, but I think the technology is out there by now.

drjim said...

And if you can use spread spectrum, they can be very hard to detect.

Unknown said...

to shut down connections from an Island like Cuba, and even shut down the government run ISP is not that hard.

In the US where the ISPs are private, and there are far more connections to the outside world that would be far harder.

Shutting down/blocking access to major Internet sites is also much easier than shutting down all communications.

And determined people can find ways to make Internet connections in the long term (I'm surprised that some enterprising people don't have a wifi link from Florida to Cuba, 90 miles would be far from a record, but they may not have the altitude to make it work)

the new satellite services (starlink and similar) will make it even harder for governments to block Internet access to their country

Back in the first gulf war, Saddam was getting emails in and out even after extensive bombing and the US announcing that they had cut him off multiple times. I later heard that the Internet connection that survived was being run along a railroad track at some stupidly low baud rate (<10bps IIRC)

but the more you depend on big companies to provide you service, the easier it will be to get cut off and/or monitored.

Running a server at home is easier today than it ever has been, your wifi access point has more compute power in it than the big servers did at the dawn of the Internet and is probably running Linux already. communicating by IP address and not relying on 'Big Tech' servers is not trivial, but not as hard as you would assume (and once it's setup, not much harder to use)

This is what the 'Dark Web' that you've heard about is. It's still using the same Internet infrastructure, just not using default DNS and big tech services (other than hosting)

so short term, the government can interfere, but absent special cases where a country is very isolated and has few links to the rest of the world, it's really hard to cut off a country from the Internet in the long run, and even harder to shut down the Internet within a country.

Techies used to say that the Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it, and to a large extent that's true, even with a large group of those same techies actively trying to subvert it.

David Lang

Unknown said...

@Eric, hackers and hams are still working on mesh, there are actually large ham networks deployed

the problem is that the wifi protocols are designed for low-noise environments where weak signals are the biggest problem, not for high user density, and as such it's hard to make them scale well (and very hard to make them perform really well)

David Lang

chris vf said...

Broad strokes with it will be rough, hope you are friendly with your immediate neighbors beforehand.

The other scary thing is it will depend on how it gets broken. If it gets broken at the website / blog / forum level and leaves the backend stuff alone, it will come back fairly quickly but worse on the service side. The time out will let the big 4 tech comanies tighten things down (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Amazon gets included because of their web services, Netflix gets included because of the data centers they run)

If it gets broken below the web level and at the actual network level, it will be longer before things come up, and it will be a shitshow. Imagine an Internet built from the ground up where governments and the big 4 designed things from the doors to make censorship easy, honestly after that the next move would be two fold, close / de-fund public libraries, and then Internet is a right aid programs to give free access to everyone. Then you're firmly in the propagandist's and the censor's pocket. For the US all it would really take to do it would be about 15 people with shovels and gps coordinates the fiber ring that connects the country is buried really shallow in a lot of places, and it would only take about 5 breaks (the last time I checked) to shut down a huge chunk nation wide, on the east and west coast it would stay up, but the new routing everything would take would make things just about unusable.

Stephen St. Onge said...

        You all really need to stop talking about how, "one day," you'll revolt against oppression, and start actively planning to make war on the U.S. govt.  The prime reason the Confederacy failed was because they weren't prepared for the war they insisted on starting.

RustyGunner said...

…Says the fed.

Night driver said...

Steph HAS a point. One that needs to be taken to heart.

Night Driver

Eric Wilner said...

@David Lang, 0732: Yeah, WiFi is highly suboptimal for anything beyond household scale, though it's reportedly possible to use it for fairly long range point-to-point bridges with directional antennae (e.g., the infamous Pringles-can antenna).
Back when, we were looking at using chips (actually chip pairs: radio + PA/LNA front end) designed for the 802.15.4 family of protocols - small packets, modest data rate, and, with the RF front end chip, considerable range as long as the RF environment isn't too cluttered.
Of course, if the Internet goes away, most of the clutter in the 2.4 GHz band will eventually get turned off... not much point (for most users) leaving local connectivity active if you can't talk to the world.

RustyGunner said...

A point which is not germane to a discussion of strategies for communicating around the postulated unavailability of the internet.

FinnHarps said...

Anyone have a link to good, common sense guidance about maintaining personal comms in the face of "events' - Censorship, Internet kill switch, emp, etc?

I've been trying to do some basics like getting a couple cheap (<$100) HAM receivers and getting to a basic level of competence with them.

Here are some of my outstanding questions:

1) How can you re-configure, adapt your internet line to bypass the most likely DS shutdown on internet comms - likely from the top 4-5 ISPs? Or are there the scenarios people should have in mind?

Setup your own DNS server (how, what info do you need before the blackout)? VPN tunnels? I'm sure someone will figure out ways to hack the more common routers and their firmware to keep them working for users who want to communicate with censored info.

2) What encrypted comms are most likely to remain useful when DS is attempting to censor "unapproved" comms from the population?

Telegram, WhatsApp, Signal, Tor, Proton mail? What's the best way to use these when under censorship? What should you DO and NOT DO with these services prior to blackout? What are the risks of using these "out of the box" apps? What level of security should you rely on with them? Are any of these common ones know to be compromised already?

Understand it can be important to not use these extensively with people where there isn't already a known relationship, wife, father, sister, etc. Even though the message may be encrypted, the node to node connection could be harmful.

3) HAM radio seems like it could be really useful under censorship.

What's the best way to train, prepare to be a resource? What are the best ways to use HAM in 2021 - using encryption and/or digital messaging for burst comms, etc? What prep is required: Hardware? Training? Information about channels/schedules/best uses/differnet characteristics of different frequencies? If broadcasting, how to do so in a way the minimizes risks while maximizing impact to other Constitutionalists?

Unknown said...


re: #1

As long as the network connection stays up, you do not have to depend on the big Tech systems.

If you run your own email server at home (like I do), you will be able to communicate with anyone who doesn't use big tech mail system (now, they can remove you from DNS, but if you pre-plan, the people you want to communicate with can use an alternate name resolution system, which can be your own set of DNS servers, or host file entries if it's just a few systems)

Similarly, anyone can host their own website.

business Interenet connections allow you to do this, some home Internet connections will block the default ports that are used for these services, but those are only the default ports, the protocols will work on any port, so if you are setting up private communications, as long as everyone you are talking to agrees to use the same set of ports, you can talk to each other just fine. (and decent software has the ports configurable)

Similarly, encryption for comms is secure if the encryption is done at the endpoint (not at the server), and you need to be able to generate your on encryption keys. With e-mail and websites, the tools to do this have been around for a long time.

now, ISPs can block these alternate ports that you choose, but this is far more work for them, and is likely to break other users using approved services (and most of the time, the equipment that the ISPs use isn't beefy enough to do a lot of complex filtering)

Radio is trackable, if you can hear it, you can track it (Hams have made a game of this, T-hunting, where someone sets out one or more low power transmitters and other hams track it down, here in Southern California there are monthly all-day t-hunts that can involve 3-5 transmitters and have the hunters travel over a hundred miles during the hunt). Thanks the the recent unpleasentness in the middle east, automated direction finding systems exist that can locate you in seconds (if they are setup ahead of time and know what frequency you will be using)

without automated systems, tracking is an art, and there are lots of tricks you can use to make it harder, the simplest being short transmissions, don't yack on the air talking slowly, let your computer transmit the data is a short burst of tones.

David Lang

RustyGunner said...

Something to remember with amateur or GMRS radio is that encryption or any obvious means of obscuring your message (“The chair is against the wall”) is illegal. This might not matter much in a real grid-down WROL situation but the issue here is too much rule of law, and the other team is really, really good at signals intelligence and even if they can’t crack your encryption they can recognize that it’s there and locate you. You want to be a gray man here and just be Joe Ordinary on the airwaves until such time as the appearance of compliance no longer matters.