[LINK] How Egypt Shut down the net

Martin Barry marty at supine.com
Tue Feb 22 21:16:46 AEDT 2011

A bit late to this thread but the article is just so wrong... so dumbed

$quoted_author = "Jan Whitaker" ;
> Because the internet's legendary robustness and ability to route 
> around blockages are part of its basic design, even the world's most 
> renowned network and telecommunications engineers had been perplexed 
> the Mubarak government succeeded in pulling off the manoeuvre.

I don't think anyone was surprised. There was curiosity about how exactly
it was achieved but no surprise.

> Engineers have now worked out that the government exploited a 
> combination of vulnerabilities in the national infrastructure - the 
> main one being that the Egyptian government owns the pipelines that 
> carry information across the country and into the world.


The main vulnerability is the licensing of the ISPs and the willingness of
the government to make things happen by using threats of licence revocation
and/or nationalisation.

> The government's attack, in which it shut down its portals, achieved 
> a double knockout. It cut off Egypt from the outside world and left 
> its internal systems in a sort of comatose state: servers, cables and 
> fibre-optic lines were largely up and running but were too confused 
> or crippled to carry information save a dribble of local email 
> traffic and domestic websites whose internet circuitry somehow 
> remained accessible."


Apologies for getting "technical" but what appears to have happened is:

- government contacts ISPs and instructs them to turn off their external
  BGP sessions 

- BGP is the protocol used to advertise paths to IPs

- without these announcements, the rest of the Internet no longer knows how
  to reach Egyptian IP space and the Egyptian networks no longer know how to
  reach the rest of the Internet

- traffic stops flowing

This reason this wouldn't (shouldn't?) work in less autocratic countries is
that at step one the ISP is confident enough in their countries institutions
to respond with "get stuffed".


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