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The Effect of Hurricane Sandy on Internet Connectivity



Over the last few days, Hurricane Sandy has been ravaging the eastern seaboard and causing severe damage to much of the infrastructure located in affected areas. Not only has this storm damaged phone and power lines, it has also caused damage to many data centers which host servers and data storage facilities for websites.  In New York City, one of the areas heaviest hit by the storm, power outages and flooding have taken at least 3 major data centers offline temporarily.  As a result, several popular websites such as Gawker, The Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed were shut down by the storm.  The outages of these and other major websites will result in a temporary decrease in connectivity in the giant network that makes up the World Wide Web.

As we have discussed in class, the Internet is a single giant directed graph that connects all webpages together through links.  By losing connectivity to several major websites, the links that connect the parts of the internet pertaining to these sites together will be interrupted.  This can result in many webpages being inaccessible to internet users or only accessible through more round-about paths.  Also, several of the websites taken down by Sandy are major news websites (Gawker and The Huffington Post) that serve as internet hubs.  These sites link out to other news sources and drive traffic to such sources.  By losing these hubs, the sources that are usually linked to by sites such as Gawker will most likely experience decreased traffic until normal operation of the hubs are restored.

Hurricane Sandy, by taking down internet data centers across the northeastern US, has had a significant impact on the connectivity of the internet.  The effects of the storm will not only be felt in local areas, but also around the world due to the website outages that it has caused.




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October 2012