Back to the list

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?"


Lire cette ressource en français Top of the page


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. For 20 years, we have been the registry for the management of Internet addresses under the .fr TLD suffix. We also manage the French overseas TLDs for .re (Reunion Island), .pm (St. Pierre and Miquelon), .tf (French Southern and Antarctic Territories), .wf (Wallis and Futuna), and .yt (Mayotte). In addition to the more than 3.2 million domain names they represent, we are also the back-end registry for 14 companies as well as local and regional authorities that have chosen to have their own TLD suffix including .paris, .bzh, .alsace, .corsica, .mma, .ovh, .leclerc and .sncf. We actively support the digital transformation of small and mid-size businesses in France with our system Réussir en .fr ( and offer a free online presence support package ranging from diagnostic tools to on-site training throughout France. As an association, we federate a community of more than one hundred members with varied profiles but all of whom are stakeholders on the web: registrars, companies, federations, users, institutions, etc. Our role is part of a broader assignment involving the common good, which consists in helping to make the Internet more secure, stable and open to innovation each day, in which the French Internet community plays a leading role. In addition, we pay 90% of the profits from the management of the .fr TLD to our Afnic Foundation for Digital Solidarity ( which each year finances some thirty projects designed to reduce the digital divide throughout France.