Supposed members from the hacker group Anonymous are threatening to shut down the internet on March 31st, calling it 'Operation Blackout.' The decentralized group issued a press release on Pastebin announcing the their most ambitious plans yet: to take down the thirteen servers that form the DNS directory.
According to the statement, the attack is meant to send a very strong message in protest of "SOPA, Wallstreet, our irresponsible leaders and the beloved bankers who are starving the world for their own selfish needs out of sheer sadistic fun." Even though such an attack would no doubt affect everyone, the statement says that is not the purpose.
By cutting these off the Internet, nobody will be able to perform a domain name lookup, thus, disabling the HTTP Internet, which is, after all, the most widely used function of the Web. Anybody entering "http://www.google.com" or ANY other url, will get an error page, thus, they will think the Internet is down, which is, close enough. Remember, this is a protest, we are not trying to 'kill' the Internet, we are only temporarily shutting it down where it hurts the most.
How, exactly, would someone go about shutting down the Internet if they wanted to? Would it even be possible? The attack plan follows the usual Anonymous method, a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack, but targeted at the DNS directory.
So, what is the DNS directory? In layman's terms, it converts the web address you enter into an IP (Internet Protocol) address, which tells the servers where to send you. If the DNS system were to fail, you wouldn't be able to enter a website unless you knew the IP address, which very few people would know.
So, will it happen? Who knows; thanks to Anonymous' decentralized nature, it's hard to figure out if a message is even coming from the real 'group', and it's even harder to know if they actually have the ability to carry out such an attack. We'll just have to wait and see, but if the Internet does go down, we probably won't be here to let you know.