Let's say a country is going through political turmoil because a big enough part of the population wants to split off from it and form their own national identity, and they succeed. Let's call the original country "1" and the new one "2". Country 1 doesn't like the idea very much but can't stop it, so as the party with more resources, it decides to completely take down the internet inside Country 2.

Would that be possible with today's technology? Country 1 could have the help of other governments too, and would choose this as an alternative of prolonging the war and causing more deaths. The setting is a very similar alternate Earth, between the 2000's and 2020's.

I'm asking for a way that would still keep at least most of the power-grid working, but that would keep them from turning it back on from the inside.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you want to turn off the internet of the country and nothing else or is completely destroying the small country's power grid and electronics a viable answer? $\endgroup$
    – ITM_Coder
    Jul 18, 2022 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Jul 18, 2022 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ Yours isn't really a Q about world rules, which is what we do here. It's also too story-based, which is a reason to close the question. Here's why: If your target country has ten connections to ten other nations, you'd need all those nations to agree. If it has connections via satellite, you'd need the satellite owner to agree. If you're trying to stop inbound traffic, that's really hard because it can be tapped all over the place. Outbound traffic is easier. But the general answer is yes, it's possible, if enough people (including the international corps operating the Internet) agree. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jul 18, 2022 at 22:31
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    $\begingroup$ But my point is, it's possible (or, more accurately, plausible) only if you write your story to permit it. That's why it's not a good question for our site. It depends too much on the conditions of your story to have an objective best answer. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jul 18, 2022 at 22:32
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    $\begingroup$ This seems like a question that isn't about establishing some fact of your world but asking about the application of real world technology. Such questions aren't a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jul 18, 2022 at 22:37

4 Answers 4


This happens quite frequently with the Internet actually

Earlier in 2022 Tonga and much of the South Pacific went dark on the Internet because the undersea fiber cable was damaged by an earthquake. Many Asian countries have gone dark for the same reason, which is why Jeff Bezos bought his own transoceanic Internet - the Hawaiki Submerged cable - for Amazon.

Elon Musk wants to solve this problem with Starlink replacing undersea cables with satellites, and it will be much harder to black out a whole country, but it won’t carry the speeds of a fiber cable.

The answer is, yes you can black out a small country from the Internet. However, countries can form their own internets (with a lower case ‘i’) which will be very difficult to shut down. The proper noun Internet refers to the network across the entire globe, and there is only one of them. That is why it is a proper noun. Any country, organization or company can build their own internet and protect it, like China does. Those internets do not necessarily have full access to the Internet (such as global Domain Name Service or ARP resolution). Since the question says “internet” rather than “Internet,” this needed to be pointed out.

  • $\begingroup$ OP is kinda confused though: in the text of his question he asks whether it's possible to take down the internet IN the country. Because if you cut all fiber cables to and from China, the average citizens internet experience there would likely remain mostly intact $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Jul 19, 2022 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ When you say “Internet” it doesn’t normally refer to a localized portion of it; the Internet is a global network. Within country they all have their own WAN (Wide Area Network) connecting them to each other, and their WAN is part or the Internet, but it is not “the Internet.” They will loose Google, Alibaba, research databases, Amazon, and countless other connections. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Jul 19, 2022 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ Tonga's internet came back online 5 weeks afterwards AFAIK, which was in february. Your article is from january. Did something else happen recently? $\endgroup$ Jul 19, 2022 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ @VogonPoet technical stuff is absolutely irrelevant for the "citizens internet experience", which is what I talked about. They will not looke Alibaba and the rest does not really matter to the average user there. That was what I was talking about: a nation can isolate it's WAN to the point where the technical internet is irrelevant for most people $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Jul 19, 2022 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbamok Certainly the Internet can be blocked from within by one’s own government, as you say, but the question is very specific: Block it from the outside. I chose to use the common definition of Internet (with a capital ‘I’), and that refers to the global network, not a local internet (with a small letter ‘i’). It’s worth noting that the OP did use ‘internet’ rather than ‘Internet’, and I may be wrong in assuming they meant the global network. Most don’t know there is a vast difference. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Jul 19, 2022 at 15:23

In the short term, yes, this is perfectly possible. Especially if country 1 houses the backbone nodes that supply internet to country 2, although that's just convenience rather than a hard requirement.

In September 2021, New Zealand suffered wide-spread internet outages when someone launched a DDoS attack against an individual... although the outage itself may in fact have been because of the response from an internet provider. This is far from the first time this has happened, and the results have been significantly worse in some cases. I recall a couple of decades ago when NZ's internet went out for 3 days because a massive DDoS attack cooked several backbone routers in Australia. Some terrible decisions by the backbone providers had left the country without adequate backup links, and only those with dedicated satellite links were able to communicate outside NZ the entire time.

Similar things have happened in other countries. In 2011 a 75 year old lady in Georgia (the European country, not the US state) was digging for scrap copper and damaged a fibre cable. Sadly for Armenia, this cable was the single point of communication with the outside internet. The entire country, and half of Georgia, was offline for more than 5 hours while repair crews worked on fixing the cut section of cable.

So yeah, you can take countries down fairly easily if they don't have adequate fallbacks. If you control the territory where all of their internet links are then you can 'accidentally' cut a few key cables and they'll be offline until either you fix the cables again or they manage to get internet through some other territory. And even if you don't have direct access to those cables you can do a lot of damage with targetted DDoS attacks.

Country 1 could have the help of other governments too, and would choose this as an alternative of prolonging the war and causing more deaths.

Depending on the size of the country and the complexity of internet use you could be causing more deaths if the outage lasts for more than a few days. Pretty much everything we do these days relies on the internet. Take away access to the internet and within a few days everything goes to hell. Supply chains break down without access to their cloud-based systems. Banking systems rely so heavily on internet access that all of your POS systems go offline immediately, making it impossible to purchase anything with your cards. People get desperate and start doing stupid things like looting local stores for food. Hospitals can't access medical records. Civil unrest is already high because of the spit, so next thing you know you have riots, looting, destruction, cats and dogs living together in harmony... you know, all the chaos.

But you'd never actually do that, right? After all, internet access is a fundamental human right these days. You'd have to be some kind of monster.


I am not an IT expert but it appears feasible to cut off most of 'the internet' from a small country or part of a small country in many situations.

Firstly, for a small nation, most internet sites are based in other larger countries and many smaller countries only have a limited number of connections to the rest of the world. For example, New Zealand only has four submarine cables connecting it to the rest of the world. If these are cut or if the junction points are controllable by country 1 then country 2 will lose access to all major international web sites sites including commercial (Google, Amazon, Alibaba), financial (international banks and stock exchanges), communication (overseas e-mail, zoom etc), social (facebook, twitter, tinder, etc), media (netflix, neon...). A larger small country may have some mirror sites for some of these organisations, but it will rapidly get out of date. Even in a nation with numerous links to the www, local regions of the country may only have a few vulnerable connections. Once again, taking NZ as an example, I believe the South Island has only one cable from the North Island which provides all its international traffic.

Secondly, when you type in a web address or an e-mail address (worldbuilding.stackexchange.com for example), your local server needs to know what IP address (the 123.456.321.654 thingy) to go to for a connection. This relies on DNS root servers which act like giant centralized phone books. Your local internet service provider may cache some of these addresses but certainly not all of them. So if the country's local DNS servers are in the control of country 1, it may be impossible for a computer in country 2 to find where to connect to another site that is also in country 2.

Now country 2 may be able to solve some these problems - eventually. If they have some satellite connections then they could transfer communications to external servers via them - but in the short term this is likely to be expensive and provode only a very limited data service. If they have borders with sympathetic nations new land links could be added or upgraded or loaded up with more traffic. Even in the short term it woul dbe unlikely that country 1 could put country 2 in a total internet blackout forever, but there would likely be significant disruption for an extended period.


"It depends".

Internet connectivity requires, at some point, bits to flow between your country and another. At the other country's end of the flow of bits is some equipment, owned by a company or government. If they turn it off, no more bits flow.

Depending on how many links lead from your country, and how many neighbours you have (and how likely the neighbours are to co-operate with each other against you), the ability to turn off all of these links may be trivial or it could be as hard as getting the whole of the UN to agree on something.

Note also that completely shutting it off may be entirely impractical, depending on the tech-level of your setting. Satellite internet is expensive and sometimes awkward, but we've had Iridium for over 20 years, BGAN for 10 years, Starlink for 2 years, and there's been plenty of stuff even prior to that.

Preventing all kinds of satellite access is probably impractical without doing some kind of active jamming, and that might require flying ECM aircraft through hostile airspace, and is therefore not the sort of thing you'd do unless you were at war with someone. Disconnecting the regular kind of internet would certainly cut off the vast majority of the civilian populace.

(and thinking about it, if you live on the border or on a suitably tall hill, and possibly have a decent external antenna, you may be able to get normal cell connectivity to neighbouring countries, who are less likely to cut off internet access to their own population. it'd be easier to do what you want if your story was set 20+ years ago.)


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