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What if ... government measures intended to protect networks made them even more vulnerable?

After Ten Years of a National “Intranet”, Noorland Returns to the Open Internet

In a move welcomed around the world, Noorland’s Prime Minister today announced she is reversing the country’s “Internet securitisation” programme. In 2017, concerned about threats to national security and political stability, Noorland cut its networks off from the global Internet and kept almost all data and traffic inside its borders. Critics argued the extreme measure was actually aimed at opposition activists, not just at foreign hackers.

All data on Noorland citizens had to be held on servers physically located in Noorland, effectively banning foreign technology firms and forcing all communications data through highly-controlled choke points susceptible to interception. The country’s innovators and entrepreneurs complained that “securitisation” would cripple the economy, but the government insisted that security must come first.

Last month’s devastating cyberattacks on the Noorland Internet showed how easily a concentrated network can be taken down. In an apparently coordinated series of attacks, node after node of the highly-concentrated network collapsed. Attacks came via multiple vectors and at different levels of the network, targeting local DNS servers, network gateways, and even bringing down for a short period the Tier 2 telecoms provider. It is not yet known if the attacks came from within or outside the country.

Most damaging of all, politically, was the hackers’ broadcast on national television of a real-time graphical representation of the attacks. As the country watched, key nodes went down, one by one, live on air. Viewers described an “almost apocalyptic” atmosphere as they watched single points of failure go dark.

The Prime Minister issued an edict immediately reversing “securitisation”, publicly recognising that her country had become powerless to prevent the very catastrophe her digital sovereignty program was designed to stop. Today, she convenes the country’s top Internet experts to work on making Noorland part of the global Internet, again embracing the global Internet rather than shutting it out.

This story shows us how the Internet might evolve. But the path we take is up to us.

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