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5 X-Events that Can Collapse the World as You Know It

2) Digital Darkness: Widespread Failure of the Internet!

The Internet has morphed into the nervous system of the global economy. It's how you can go to an ATM anywhere and get money. It's tied into the cash registers you use when you buy from chain stores. It's how supermarkets and companies like Wal-Mart know where to ship their inventory. Airlines and trains are also dependent on the net for scheduling. All of that is aside from the hundreds of billions of dollars in daily economic transactions and people who rely on the Internet to communicate.

What happens if the net goes down, not in a limited area for an hour or two, but across the entire United States or even the world, for months at a time? With nations like China engaging in organized, sophisticated cyber attacks and hacking, we'd better prepare.

Of course, in an age where sophisticated malware like Stuxnet and FLAME penetrate and take down government systems, it may not be possible to fully secure any system connected to the Internet. Also, all of that assumes that a lone security expert like Robert Kaminsky, who found in the DNS system that which would have allowed him to "reassign any web address, reroute anyone's e-mail, take over bank accounts or even scramble the whole Internet," doesn't exploit weaknesses in the design of the Internet to bring it down.

You think people get aggravated when Twitter or Facebook is down for a couple of hours? Well, imagine having the entire Internet down for a couple of months with no idea when it's coming back up. At that point, a "fail whale" would be the least of anyone's problems.

The Internet is down!