Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 10:34 AM ET, 01/28/2011

How Egypt pulled out of the Internet

By Hayley Tsukayama

Renesys, an internet security firm based in Manchester, N.H., has given its commentary on how Egypt managed to shut down all Internet access in the country.

Essentially, post author Jim Cowie, the chief technology officer and a co-founder of Renesys, told the Associated Press, Egypt is one of the few countries with so much control over its service providers that it was able to hit a virtual kill switch on the country's access to the Internet.

In a post on the Renesys site from around 7 p.m. Thursday night, the company observed that nearly all of the routes to Egypt were simultaneously withdrawn, starting at about 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Thursday night and 12:34 a.m. in Egypt. "Approximately 3,500 individual BGP routes were withdrawn," the company wrote, "leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange Internet traffic with Egypt's service providers."

This is completely unprecedented, according to Renesys. While other countries such as Tunisia and Iran have blocked parts of the Internet or manipulated access to make it very slow, he wrote that "the Egyptian government's actions tonight have essentially wiped their country from the global map." The only part of Egypt's Internet presence that had not been affected, he noted, was the 83 live routes of the Noor Group, which holds one of IP addresses for the Egyptian Stock Exchange, which is still accessible. Cowie said this was excellent planning on behalf of the Stock Exchange's IT staff and posits the theory that the Egyptian government let the group continue so that the markets could open next week.

Cowie said that such a thing could not happen in U.S., as internet connectivity is spread between hundreds, possibly thousands, of different places. "We have enough Internet here that we can have our own Internet," he told the AP. "If you cut it off, that leads to a philosophical question: Who got cut off from the Internet, us or the rest of the world?"

By Hayley Tsukayama  | January 28, 2011; 10:34 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Court approves Sony's restraining order against George Hotz
Next: Tuning into car stereos at the Washington Auto Show

Comments

What about persons with sattelite (like hugh's net) connections or wireless ???
Would they still have access ???

Posted by: killerm1 | January 28, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

FYI- Satellite simply uses an intermediary for ground-based switch-to-switch connections. It is at the switches that connections take place.

That is how the U.S. Government was able to monitor all IP traffic by running switch traffic into their own equipment.

Posted by: rowens1 | January 28, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Isn't there a technical solution around this? Remember some of the off-shore radio stations during the Cold War? Why couldn't the same thing be done for wireless to circumvent the government's control?

Posted by: dnhaydock | January 28, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Ask AT&T if you can feed your own switch- by satellite if you wish. The fiber is privately owned, and without it you lose the "long-haul".

Posted by: rowens1 | January 28, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Hayley Tsukayama,

Obviously you do not follow the news in the US. Several months ago Obama gave himself an internet kill switch. he did this after seeing the uprising in Iran, but I'm sure that the timing was mere coincidence.

Posted by: davidholt123@comcast.net | January 28, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

@davidholt123: Prove it! Provide some information to support your conspiracy theory that Pres. Obama has masterminded some unheard of ability to "kill the internet" in the U.S.

Posted by: quakewithfear_ncsu | January 28, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

There are interesting ways to circumvent this but they would require significant effort.

http://www.open-mesh.com/

Thousands of people can connect routers together to share a single connection...over wi-fi. With this technology you can create a mesh using land lines outside the country's borders and transfer the signal wirelessly inside the border...to routers that would transfer the signal to other routers.

Yes, I know, it would take a lot of routers. But the technology exists.

Posted by: 20yrskinfan | January 28, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Well since VP Biden has told us Mubarak is not a dictator, I think there is probably a good reason for Egypt restricting almost all internet access.

Posted by: g30rg3544 | January 28, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The mere fact the government of Egypt has a Internet Shut Off switch is more than enough reason for it to be overthrown. Setting it up for it to be easy to shut off your own people's ability to communicate within and outside your country is unforgivable.

There is no internet kill switch in the USA, the whole set up is to avoid common dependency on any central location, which means no simple way to implement a kill switch.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | January 28, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

It helps when the government owns the main telecom. While Telecom Egypt is a "private" company, the majority of shares are owned by the government.

Posted by: patrickgama7 | January 28, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

@quakewithfear_ncsu - rightwingnuts never need the slightest evidence for their wild conspiracy theories. It's always plenty sufficient for them that the information came from the unimpeachable source:

"Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: email I got from your aunt martha"

This is how they know that Obama is a Manchurian Muslim, climate change is a great big hoax, the moon landing was faked, fluoridated water is turning their sons into commie lesbians, and that the FDA's death panels are making grandma into soylent green to feed the illegal anchor babies. And lots of other things the Librul Medya (tm) doesn't want them to know about, of course.

Posted by: B2O2 | January 28, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

@quakewithfear_ncsu - rightwingnuts never need the slightest evidence for their wild conspiracy theories. It's always plenty sufficient for them that the information came from the unimpeachable source:

"Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: email I got from your aunt martha"

This is how they know that Obama is a Manchurian Muslim, climate change is a great big hoax, the moon landing was faked, fluoridated water is turning their sons into commie lesbians, and that the FDA's death panels are making grandma into soylent green to feed the illegal anchor babies. And lots of other things the Librul Medya (tm) doesn't want them to know about, of course.

Posted by: B2O2 | January 28, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

funny. this cat, d. holt thinks obama has a kill switch. i would also like him to provide the source from where he got that crazy idea.

Posted by: bruce30 | January 28, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Wait, someone actually thinks President Obama actually has a kill switch to disable the entire internet in the US. Really? Really? O.K. let's think about this...you know what? Never mind, it's even worth thoughts, comments or keystrokes.

Posted by: eaglechik | January 28, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Apparently Darknet and Dark Internet using their own router systems is still working in Egypt.

Posted by: walker1 | January 28, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Peer to Peer and Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocols for VPNs may also be working. Even Skype and similar systems might also be working.

Posted by: walker1 | January 28, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

If you have not seen this, take a look at this brochure being distributed in Egypt. Shows people how to protest the right way!!

http://www.precisiontradingsolutions.blogspot.com

Posted by: kjordan3637 | January 28, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

quakewithfear_ncsu,

Are you serious, you need for me to prove to you that Obama gave himself an internet kill switch!!!! You are posting on the Washington Post!!!, search the site for "internet kill switch"!!!!.

Just because you refuse to read any bad news regarding Obama doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Posted by: davidholt123@comcast.net | January 28, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

For all of you far left crazies here is your proof. Its been a whole four days since Obama's last request to give himself a kill switch of his own. It appears we in the Tea Party have been successful so far in preventing him from getting one.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20029282-281.html

Posted by: davidholt123@comcast.net | January 28, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

you tea baggers go look it up yourselves, it's Joe Lieberman pushing for an 'internet kill switch' not our president.
On the other hand I hope you tea baggers and anyone else is successful at blocking this stupid idea from becoming law because it's useless in the first place, not possible to implement, no use having it passed or have DHS attempt to prepare to carry it out.

Posted by: edinny | January 28, 2011 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Shutting down the internet & cell phone service is truly an act of desperation.

In a free society this is impossible.

This will probably be one of Biden's biggest misstatements. For him NOT to refer to Mubarak as a dictator is flat out incorrect. Granted, he has been a peaceful president and ally for some time, but he is a dictator.

Joe Biden: Did you know Hosni Mubarak has been embezzling billions all this time too?

The Egyptians are finally fed up with financial corruption in their own house too.

They need a new president. Stand behind the people.

Posted by: ringlingj | January 28, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: davidholt123

Is your real name Jerry Fletcher and do you drive a cab?

From a single strand of hair you can build an entire scenario as possible and then in the next breath state without doubt that it is the gospel truth and a fact of nature?

Posted by: dotto | January 28, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Obama does not have a kill switch, but a bill to give him one got out of a Senate committee.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-20029302-501465.html

Still a long way before it becomes law...

Posted by: slar | January 28, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

to davidholt123, you watch to much Fox News
No Obama does not have a kill switch.

Obviously you do not follow the news in the US. Several months ago Obama gave himself an internet kill switch. he did this after seeing the uprising in Iran, but I'm sure that the timing was mere coincidence.

davidholt123@comcast.net

Posted by: joedamico34yahoocom | January 29, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse

If this continues much longer, the economic affects are going to start to show up in oil and food. Our govt is being made to look weak during this entire process as they sit around and wait to see what happens. All the talk shows this weekend discussed how this crisis has the white house "frozen".

Check out these hilarious cartoons on the Egypt crisis this morning.....

http://precisiontradingsolutions.blogspot.com

Posted by: kjordan3637 | January 31, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

If countries can't pull the plug on the internet how would they protect against a cyber attack?

Posted by: ijr99 | February 4, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

If the FAA could shut down all airports on 9/11, the FCC should be able to shut down the internet, radio or tv and satellites if they were being used against our us.

Posted by: ijr99 | February 4, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company