Ian Collins is Leading Britain's Conversation.
24 October 2016, 18:30
A massive co-ordinated series of cyber attacks forced hundreds of major websites including Amazon and Twitter offline last Sunday.
Some people are saying that the security breach could be practice for disrupting the US election.
Those people might just be journalists making stories up to fill the gaps in their newspapers between items on women Donald Trump is accused of squeezing and the body count in Emmerdale.
WikiLeaks believes its supporters were responsible and urged them to 'stop taking down the US internet'.
It is nice of WikiLeaks to say that but also alarming that something that is so fundamental to modern life can be obliterated by a disaffected teen on his lap-top.
Of course, it could have been the Russians attempting to subvert the cause of democracy.
The belief is that the Kremlin has been trying to shoe-horn The Donald into the White House as they believe Trump is sensitive to Russia's desires, whereas Hillary might require a big cheque to come onside.
The Wikileaks releases might not have been very damaging to Hillary's chances of election but they are an irritation to the American government, and the Ecuadoreans switched off Julian Assange's internet service in its UK embassy after he released another tranche of emails showing the contents of a speech given by Hillary Clinton to Goldman Sachs.
Goldman Sachs have the resources to get Hillary at one of their shindigs. Since the fall in the price of oil, Russia is fresh out of money and couldn't come up with anything like the amount that Clinton is used to receiving for making a formal address. They couldn't afford a thumbs up.
It has been suggested that the Ecuadoreans were pressured into removing Julian Assange's access to the world wide web by the Americans. The US have claimed their innocence, and if you believe that, I have a rare upside down £5 note I would like to sell you.
When the internet was taken down, Wikileaks tweeted: 'The Obama administration should not have attempted to misuse its instruments of state to stop criticism of its ruling party candidate.'
They are citing political interference as the reason for the attack that left a great deal of the United States communicating with each other like it was 1899.
Concerns about the security of the web and of the attack on freedom of speech aside, it is worrying that a few eager computer nerds can take out the internet feed for much of the richest country on earth.
Pretty much everything we now do is controlled online. When Amazon and Twitter went dark it meant that people could not Tweet how happy they were with the knick-knack they just bought online.
They couldn't share pictures of them unwrapping their purchase and post videos of them rating it.
It denied users the opportunity of commenting on those posts and telling the person responsible that they are either The Greatest Thing In The Whole World Ever and deserve a heart-shaped emoticon, or they are ugly and stupid and should kill themselves.
An internet outage is bad because for a lot of people, if it is not on the internet, it does not exist.
We should count ourselves lucky. It could have been much worse.
Can you imagine your internet banking going down, or our transport network?
Without the net, people might not have been able to steal music or download The Game Of Thrones without paying for it.
If the internet went down, we could not pass the hours we are supposed to be working by looking at holiday destinations we can't afford to go to, or inside houses we don't have the money to buy.
Without the net, celebrities would not have an outlet to post their thoughts. Pussy cats doing cute things would be doing so only for their owners, and not for the millions who like to waste their time watching other people's pets.
Good grief, if the internet did not work, we would have to go back to buying pornography in the form of shrink-wrapped magazines, or finding torn copies of them littering railway sidings.
There is comfort in nostalgia, but no-one wants to go back to THOSE good old days.