As much as we like data, it’s very easy to become lost in it. But what if you could see the whole picture? That’s the idea behind internet tracking dashboards. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are used only to demonstrate the global reach of internet security services, while others can provide useful, real-time information. We’ll discuss the concept of global internet visualization and provide a few examples.
As we speak, internet problems are occurring worldwide. Systems are failing. Hackers are hacking. Power is lost and regained. Any number of other problems may be defined and recognized as they happen. Today’s capable computers can now easily monitor these data points, gather them into a unified system, and associate them with geographical locations.
This is the power of geographical information systems (GIS). As explained in the Techopedia article “How GIS Can Put Your Organization on the Map”, GIS combines data collection and management, spatial or geographic analysis, and a visual display to give a broad view of what is happening in a given geographical area. That may include the locations of fire hydrants in a city or the presence of data centers around the globe.
Although the term is not commonly used in this context, you could say that maps that display internet outages are also examples of GIS technology. Just click on some of the maps below and you will quickly see the association between data and geography on your screen.
It’s all about the collection of data, and the more you have the better. Pingdom has a map called “The State of the Internet”. They say it is “a live broadcast of Internet statistics, as collected by Pingdom from over 700,000 users across the world”. At the time of this writing, the page said that there were 12,326 websites down in the last hour. Perhaps the main reason for this map is to get people to purchase their website monitoring tool.
The IT tech community Spiceworks has published an Internet Outage Heatmap. The map monitors thousands of ISPs worldwide. The legend indicates that a colored dot on the map could be a confirmed outage (red), a possible outage (yellow), or no reported outage (green). It also lists outage activity going back 24 hours, 3 days, or 7 days.
Global DDoS attacks are monitored using data from Arbor Networks on a tool called Digital Attack Map. It also includes a gallery that gives visualization to some interesting past attacks. It should be noted that just because an attack path shows that it originated from a certain country, that doesn’t mean that the attacker is actually in that country. The origin can be masked.
The Attack Map from Norse Corp has all the look and feel of a modern video game. Statistics at the bottom of the screen list attack origins, attack types, attack targets, and live attacks, while a blue-on-black world map shows malicious activity between countries and across continents. The effect is ominous, and rightly so. The company touts among its products the “Norse Intelligence Service”, and the single item under its markets menu is “Government”. What dastardly deeds we must be witnessing as we watch the digital darts assailing targets across the globe.
Another ominous-looking map is the Cyberthreat Real-Time Map from Kapersky. Rather than a flat map, this page shows a spinning globe hanging dimly in the darkness of space. Apparent attacks take you suddenly along a 3-D virtual path, then the screen pans back to show the glow of a vast array of attack signals on an ever-changing screen. The world is under attack, and in many places. The map is based on data from Kapersky Lab.
The security company Fortinet provides us with a darkened Threat Map, perhaps to motivate us to purchase one of their products or services. The company offers a variety of products, including firewalls, secure SD-WAN, secure Wi-Fi, and public cloud security. They also provide solutions for small businesses, the enterprise, and service providers. Their threat intelligence research includes a document called the Threat Landscape Report Q4 2017.
Another global internet monitor comes from the internet services company Akamai. Their Real-Time Web Monitor designates threats on a world map with color coding. It does the same for internet traffic, and allows the user to see statistics by country or state.
There are also many companies that provide global internet monitoring services for individual companies. But that falls into a category of network monitoring that we are not dealing with here. And other websites provide information about what’s currently down, including Is It Down Right Now?, Down Right Now, and Down Detector. These sites don’t provide global graphics like the sites mentioned above, but Down Detector does provide graphs and maps for individual companies, such as this outage map for Verizon. You will probably find many more internet monitoring sites in your own search.
The internet has gone global, and so have all the problems that go with it. Outages, attacks, and other network events threaten all of us who go online or use the internet in our businesses. It may be interesting to step back and view these internet monitors and consider all the dangers that they represent. They can give us a world view of some of the unpleasantness that can trigger our worst fears. But it might be best not to do this on a dark and stormy night.