The web is a sort of ecosystem and, like other ecosystems, is exposed to risks. Its body, the Internet, inevitably suffers occasional glitches in the physical hardware. The programs that support the communication protocols contain the logic bugs that plague every large-scale software system. There are external threats too: software invasions created with the specific intention of damaging the system.

Like any ecosystem, the web reacts. It differs from other human artifacts, which collapse entirely when trivial faults occur. Its network structure bestows a robustness that is familiar to biologists and shared by many scale-free networks. During the gloomy days of the dot-com boom-and-bust cycle, you might be forgiven for ...

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