Into the void: Your technology and safety in the digital darkness


No internet, perfect security? Two ESET researchers conducted a thought experiment in which they considered the implications of falling into the digital darkness.

Not every computer problem is caused by the war in Ukraine, or power grid failure in Texas. But let’s say your network access is shut down from all over the world due to a catastrophic event. Whether it’s an armed conflict, an authoritarian regime decision, an incident affecting undersea internet cables, or your connection simply being squeezed by excessive network throttling and power grid issues; how safe are you (and for how long)?

Your computer used to work fine in standalone mode; now they are a constant beacon to the clouds. But what if the cloud shuts down: are they so crippled that you’re no longer secure?

At first, you probably won’t notice any changes to local apps and the operating system. You’ll no doubt see cloud-only apps in your browser, but eventually, all those silent computer updates humming in the background will catch up with you, and things will start to crash.

First, a cloud backup won’t happen unless it’s probably within your remaining internet access zone. But also your security will continue to weaken and you will become more and more vulnerable as your applications and operating system are far behind their updates.

Exposure will not be linear. Fundamentally, some technologies (like ours) just won’t respond the same way they would in a standalone environment like software that is more critically tied to the cloud, like Windows.

So, what if a natural or man-made disaster stops your internet access? How do you – and your computer running Windows and all kinds of software – deal with the annoyance? How does ESET’s own software perform in the same context?

In this (easily printable) paper, we posed this kind of question with ESET Distinguished Researcher and Windows expert Aryeh Goretsky.

If you prefer ‘audio person’, this conversational version is also available as a podcast below.

Enjoy reading/listening!


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