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Issue paper: Can the Internet be broken?

November 27, 2017

Afnic explores the possibility of a general outage of the Internet and the solutions to improve its resistance.

After exploring in previous publications the security issues related to the DNS protocol and the risks of hijacking domain names, Afnic has addressed a thorny question: is it possible to break the Internet? Can its operation be interrupted for a longer or shorter period, following a deliberate attack, or an accidental breakdown?

This issue paper attempts to answer the vast question, in particular by redefining what the Internet is, what are its most crucial elements, those potentially subject to attacks via the routers and the DNS protocol. It also reviews recent examples of spectacular incidents and their consequences.

Lastly, rather than categorically answering a purely theoretical question, this issue paper proposes pointers for consideration and action to improve the resistance (to cope with an attack) and the resilience (to restart after an attack) of the Internet.


Afnic Issue Paper cover Can the Internet be brokenDownload Afnic Issue Paper "Can the Internet be broken?"


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Afnic (the French acronym for "Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération" i.e. the French Network Information Centre), is a non-profit association. Appointed by the State to manage domain names under the .fr TLD, it promotes use of the namespace by entrepreneurs and individuals. As the incumbent manager of the .fr TLD with more than 3.2 million domain names to date, it is also positioned as a provider of technical solutions and registry services: it currently manages 14 projects for new gTLDs, including .paris and .bzh. Afnic is located in Saint-Quentin en Yvelines, where its staff of 80 work for the common good of the French Internet. Afnic donates 90% of the profits from the .fr TLD to the Afnic Foundation for Digital Solidarity, which finances inclusive Internet projects in France and its overseas territories.