Where IS the Internet?

Discussion in 'Computer Science & Culture' started by Magical Realist, May 29, 2014.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    When I log online where is this information I am receiving? Is it inside a server somewhere? Is it distributed across the globe as a sort of wireless field of energy? Where IS the Internet? Is it stored inside of machines? Or is it in some sense beyond them--a sort of "cloud"--in space itself?
     
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  3. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    The data is stored on servers, in large data centers. I own a website, hosted by Yahoo. Since Yahoo has dozens of data centers scattered across the globe, I have no idea where the data actually resides(though I could find out if I feel like it).

    But that isn't what your main question was. The internet is the networks, not the data (just like a highway isn't a car). Just as there are maps showing roads, there are also internet maps that show the network connections (mostly wires).
     
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    The information itself lives on a hard drive in a server, generally in a place with a lot of other servers. A server can be as basic as a PC with a large hard drive or as complex as a hot-swappable purpose built device that fits into a rack with all the other servers.

    The information gets to you via the Internet itself. "The Internet" generally refers to a set of protocols (including universal resource locators, the TCP/IP stack, the HTTP language, the IPv4/IPv6 addressing scheme etc) that allows your information to make its way accurately from your computer to the server and back. It travels on "backbones" (very high capacity optical fibers and copper) and then out to you via Internet service providers (ISP's) which encode the data so it can travel on fibers, twisted pairs (phone line/DSL) or cable (riding "on top" of cable TV channels.)
     
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  7. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Could hackers ever create a virus that would make the Internet crash?
     
  8. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    The internet is not a singular entity. But any number of servers can be crashed by viruses. In theory I suppose one could be made that successfully crashes all of them.
     
  9. btr Registered Member

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    I thought everyone knew: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDbyYGrswtg&feature=kp
     
  10. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks for the info. It's nice to know where all my porn comes from..lol!
     
  11. Arne Saknussemm trying to figure it all out Valued Senior Member

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    The best description I've come across is that the internet is like where you are when you're on the phone. When you're speaking with someone on the phone where are you? Sure, you're where you are standing, and that other person is where he is, but where are you at speaking together? Some cyber netherworld that is here, there, nowhere and everywhere, I suppose. The Internet is that same place with information you can see as well as hear.
     
  12. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    yes
    it could be.
    the "internet" doesn't exist.
    your computer "requests" data and it is sent to you in packets.
    these packets can be sent over phone lines and be transmitted like radio waves.
    your computer "captures" these packets and assembles the complete file.
     
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    20,651
    Not really. The TCP/IP protocol was designed to be very robust. You can crash individual servers (say, the server that hosts Sciforums) and you can crash individual ISP's and you can crash the computers that run the backbones - but TCP/IP is a powerful routing protocol and will automatically find a way to route around the damaged servers/backbones. And since all those machines use different processors/operating systems/server software it is very unlikely that one virus would be able to affect them all.
     
  14. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    The Internet (International Network) is something that exists between the many countries that support it (Even though it originated on DARPA's Early Threat Warning Network and a for a number of years was based mainly on US servers). As mentioned there are "Backbones" which are large server repositories that some peoples sites can be directly served from or they can act as a PoP (Point of Presence) for other data-centres located elsewhere around the globe. The entanglement of these connections is an attempt to make an extremely robust system of connections that have the fail-safe of heuristics in their design. The backbones can be close run by ISP's for caching etc to the people that use their services, or they can be run by third-parties with "Network Neutrality" agreements (Where no single company is given exclusive rights to that data centre.)

    As for If the internet could be taken out in one fell swoop through a virus or attack. There are a number of measures in place to stop that happening, in fact that's some of the reason why the NSA and GCHQ have been given the access they have for monitoring everyone online, there is allegedly a number of individuals that at any given notice have particular "keys" to reboot the internet should it ever be taken down by an attack, of course they are very secretive about who and where since they would be the weaklink during a reboot.

    As previously stated also the internet has many moving parts making it very difficult for a single attack to undermine it completely, the only true concern is if administrators of such networks don't maintain their network with updated software or patches to counter discovered exploits, as any true threat to the internet as a whole would require a "Combined-arms" attack where more than one exploit is being applied at the same time.
     
  15. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    the internet was designed with the following assumption:
    the method of delivery is unreliable.

    in order to "shut down" the internet you will need to do one of the following:
    shut down every server on the planet
    or shut down every known method of delivery.
     
  16. Andrus Registered Member

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    Internet may be compared to humankind.

    There are a lot of computers and devices actively doing something and talking to each-other in the internet. Just like people work, talk, meet up and so on.

    Typical large-scale technical problems (including viruses) affect some specific type of devices and/or software in them by oftentimes just paralysing them.
    Paralysed machines cannot well (sometimes not at all) do what they were meant to do (e.g. display this sentence here to you) - this appears to the user as computer/internet/forum/etc "does not work".
    Same goes to people. If a group of people (e.g. nation, profession, etc) gets insulted or threatened then the people in those groups get kind of paralysed. They focus on the event and do less their normal daily activities.

    Worse case, destruction, can also be compared.
    Post-war people have a lot to re-build that was demolished.
    When some vital content in a computer/device gets destroyed by virus or similar, then it takes time to "bring up to life" the machine again.
     

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