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Egyptian Government Shuts Down Most Internet and Cell Services

The Egyptian government has disabled most Internet and cell phone services in an apparent effort to disrupt the anti-government protests gripping the country. Egypt’s four primary Internet providers all stopped moving data early Friday, effectively cutting off Egyptians from the outside world and each other.

Update from Renesys
17:30 UTC Friday

“The Internet routing situation for Egypt continues to be bleak, with an estimated 93% of Egyptian networks currently unreachable. Renesys saw no significant improvements or changes in Egyptian international Internet routing overnight. We have examined the takedown event more closely, looking at the sequence in which Egyptian service providers removed themselves from the Internet. The following plot shows the number of available networks for each of the significant providers, between 22:00 and 23:00 UTC last night (midnight to 1am Cairo time).” (read more)

Craig Labovitz, chief scientist for Arbor Networks: “In countries such as Egypt—with a centralized government and a relatively small number of fiber-optic cables and other ways for the Internet to get piped in—the companies that own the technologies are typically under strict licenses from the government.” (Click to Enlarge Image)

RIPE NCC Shows Live View of Routing Activity in Egypt
Starting 27 January at 20:00 UTC

From the RIPE Report: “The graph shows Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) updates which occur when routers announce changes in routing. The top half shows announcements and changes, while the bottom half shows withdrawals which occur when routers inform each other that a range of addresses is no longer reachable.

Prior to 22:00 on 27th January, the graph displays the normal background noise of BGP updates for Egyptian prefixes - hovering around 200-400 announcements per minute.

Clearly visible after 22:00 is the huge spike in updates and withdrawals when many Egyptian prefixes were withdrawn from the Internet.

The many updates visible at the time the address ranges were withdrawn are due to the nature of the BGP protocol. It takes some time for withdrawals to propogate between all routers and during this period, the routers continuously inform each other of the changing paths.”

Follow Up Post from Renesys: A Hole in the Internet
James Cowie on February 1, 2011

Even before their communications blackout, Egypt really was a small part of the Internet in absolute terms, just a few thousand routable networks out of nearly 400,000 making up the global IPv4 address space.

To illustrate the point, we put together these images, which use a Hilbert curve representation of the Internet. The world’s routed networks are in translucent grey, the unrouted networks are in black, and Egypt’s networks are in orange. Look closely and you can see Egypt’s Internet presence embedded in Africa and Europe’s address space. (read more)

Egypt Returns to the Internet
Arbor Networks - Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 - 5:30am EST

After a week long Internet outage following widespread social unrest and political protest, Egyptian Internet traffic returned to near normal levels this morning at approximately 5:30am EST. A graph of Egyptian Internet traffic from the vantage of carriers around the world both today and throughout the week below. A cursory survey of Egyptian Internet infrastructure shows all major providers and web sites are once again reachable from the rest of the Internet.

Updates:  UPDATED Feb 02, 2011 6:55 PM PST
Egypt Cuts Communications Amid ProtestsVOA, Jan.28.2011
Foreign Policy: Scramble To Silence Cairo Protests NPR, Jan.28.2011
Reports say Egypt Web shutdown is coordinated, extensive CNN, Jan.28.2011
Egypt's Internet Blocked - I Call on My Friend Tarek Kamel to Unblock It and Join His People Khaled Fattal, CircleID, Jan.28.2011
The Internet Society on Egypt's Internet shutdown Internet Society, Jan.28.2011
Some Observations on Reachability of Egyptian Networks and Providers Andree Toonk, CircleID, Jan.28.2011
One U.S. Corporation's Role in Egypt's Brutal Crackdown Timothy Karr, Jan.28.2011
How Egypt Switched Off the Internet GigaOm, Jan.28.2011
Egypt Shut Down Its Net With a Series of Phone Calls Wired, Jan.28.2011
Internet shut off switch? SecuriTeam Blog, Jan.29.2011
Uncertain Knowledge Phillip Hallam-Baker, CircleID, Jan.29.2011
An Open Letter to Dr. Tarek Kamel, Minister of Communications and Information Technology of Egypt Andrew McLaughlin, Jan.29.2011
Egypt Internet Shutdown Q&A Internet Society, Jan.29.2011
Egypt goes dark as last Internet company pulls the plug NetworkWorld, Jan.31.2011
ICANN Status Report on the DNS in Egypt ICANN, Jan.31.2011
Egypt Returns To The Internet Renesys, Feb.2.2011

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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