As everyone is (or should be) aware, there will be more “demonstrations” and “protests” this weekend on the pretext of the George Floyd death. Unfortunately, subversive and anti-American organizations of all political extremes will likely use the genuine expression of “peaceably assemble” and “free speech” as a justification for riots and further insurrection attempts.
We believe because of this, that we’re in a time of elevated risk to the Internet.
Here’s how the internet operates: When you put in a website name (like “UrbanSurvival.com”) your request is routed to a DNS (Domain Name Service) server. This performs a “reverse look-up” to find the numerical address you’re trying to access. You’re then forwarded to the IP address.
The main DNS addressing system is called IPv4. According to Wikipedia, here’s its background:
“Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is the fourth version of the Internet Protocol (IP). It is one of the core protocols of standards-based internetworking methods in the Internet and other packet-switched networks. IPv4 was the first version deployed for production in the ARPANET in 1983. It still routes most Internet traffic today, despite the ongoing deployment of a successor protocol, IPv6. IPv4 is described in IETF publication RFC 791 (September 1981), replacing an earlier definition (RFC 760, January 1980).
IPv4 uses a 32-bit address space which provides 4,294,967,296 (232) unique addresses, but large blocks are reserved for special networking methods.”
We anticipate that in the event of large-scale public uprising (riots and insurrection) the federal government would implement a partial internet shutdown. Even with highly robust services, like Cisco’s Open DNS, the nameservers are still a target.
Another thing to consider is internal sabotage and such dissidents at your ISP.
That’s why we recommend you periodically update the best DNS server for your location. Yeah – it varies with where you are.
The reason to do this is you want many DNS servers lined up in advance. An article here (On the HowToGeek) site describes the process of updating your DNS nameservers.
However, you may discover – as many people do – that certain routers are not open to additional DNS listings. This may “lock you in” to a router-based DNS.
Is There a Kill Switch?
Again, referring to Wikipedia, this is often referred to as the “Internet Kill Switch” and both its existence and potential use are hotly debated, it is virtually unarguable that the Internet is a kind of “digital war munition.”
Since we have a president who (perhaps correctly) believes social media dangerous (especially in light of Twitters increasing censorship [on questionable ground – they seem to have an agenda, too]) a knee-jerk reaction for the president might be to direct the military to shut down certain portions of the internet.
There are several ways this might be achieved, but one would certainly be to disrupt DNS traffic.
One way to avoid this is to jot down a dozen, or so, of your most-used websites and see if you can find a stable IP (Internet Protocol address) for them.
This MAY be difficult since in modern IT departments, the most popular method of networking is called “Dynamic Host Control Protocol” [DHCP] which basically generates a numerical address on the fly.
This is much less work (and cheaper) than setting up a specific “Static IP.”
Our Static IPs
You may have gotten some odd messages Friday as our static IPs and SSL data changed. It’s all OK…just isn’t “instant.”
Friday morning, I directed our Internet Service Provider, a damn fine company called EMWD.com, to obtain and assign stable IPv4 addresses for two of our two main sites. Within an hour, or so, they sent me this:
“Your dedicated IP addresses have been set up and are now active. I have sent you an invoice and that invoice contains the IP addresses. Here they are for your convenience:
Please let me know if you need further assistance.
Thank you for your business. We appreciate our clients.
We do not “practice giving IT advice” however, for the small sum ($96/year) it costs for both sites, we think it’s a worthwhile investment.
Another possible way to manage the web would be to ONLY allow DNS look-ups of certain kinds of verbose addressed.
Most sites have what’s called “dual addressing.” For example, you type in www.urbansurvival.com and it will redirect and force a secure connection to https://urbansurvival.com.
What most people don’t know is that additional web address prefixes are also supported, such as www2. and www3.
For example, while www.drudgereport.com will bring up an unencrypted www-prefix version of The Drudge Report, use of the www2 prefix errors out.
On the other hand, when you put in www2.cnn.com, you’ll be upgraded to a secure connection to https://www.cnn.com/. We believe this is the best operating practice. It’s what our sites should be doing.
Here’s a personal workplan to follow if you think the Internet will ever be at risk. In our view, the web is the biggest clay foot America has.
Check your bank.
A number of them (again following what we view as good practice), such as Bank of America, support www2 addressing which forces a redirect and secure connection at https://www.bankofamerica.com.
Likely, Major Banks will have an IPv4 address that would be circulated after-the-fact of any attack or soft web down. Or, they will simply require WWW2 addressing, Or, they will be shut down until the crisis passes.
Do Lots of Web Housekeeping
We may be the only people crazy-enough to do regular backups of key data and to worry about such things. But, do you trust “the cloud” to be around forever?”
Frankly, we don’t.
There are several small USB drives around here. That’s on top of a 4 TB NAS storage box.
Do you have all your photos, videos, e-books, projects, and writings (including spreadsheets and .Project files all backed-up?
Have you downloaded an .mp3 or other transportable file system to local drives off the cloud?
I’m not trying to “make work for you.”
I am talking about prepping of the sort that [potentially] matters greatly.
Off to make sure when my “digital life fails” if will fall my way.
Write when you get rich,