How Syria Shut Down the Internet
CREDIT: Pavel Ignatov/Shutterstock.com
Yesterday (Nov. 29), all Internet traffic in and out of Syria suddenly stopped.
Syria isn't the first country to have suddenly cut its population off from the Internet, but the manner in which it did so may be unprecedented.
"Since the beginning of today's outage, we have received no requests from Syrian IP space," network-reliability provider CloudFlare wrote on its blog last night. "That is a more complete blackout than we've seen when other countries have been cut from the Internet."
The Syrian Minister of Information blamed the outage on terrorists, the Jerusalem Post reported.
"It is not true that the state cut the Internet. The terrorists targeted the Internet lines, resulting in some regions being cut off," he reportedly said, citing a cut cable.
As far as CloudFlare could tell, that was not the case. Instead, evidence suggests it was a planned shutdown by the government.
CloudFlare said when the outage occurred, connections to Syrian IP space were all withdrawn at the same time, effectively blocking all Internet traffic to and from the country.
Internet access in Syria is provided solely by the government-run Syrian Telecommunications Establishment.
There are four telecommunication cables that connect Syria to the Internet. Three are underwater and the fourth runs overland through Turkey.
However, CloudFlare doubts that the disconnect was performed physically.
"The systematic way in which routes were withdrawn suggests that this was done through updates in router configurations, not through a physical failure or cable cut," the CloudFlare blog said.
CloudFlare provided a video of the shutoff occurring in real time, letting viewers watch an entire country lose Internet access.
Nationwide Internet cutoffs were among the last-ditch efforts by Libya's and Egypt's former dictators to save their regimes before both fell during the Arab Spring uprisings last year.