Syria Experiences 20-Hour Internet Blackout

Many experts believe the government shut down Internet access.

The Internet is working again in Syria after an outage that lasted nearly twenty hours. The government blamed the downtime on a severed cable, but many suspect that the regime actually cut off Internet access on purpose as a maneuver in the ongoing conflict within the country.

PCMag's Chloe Ablanesius reported, "Internet access in Syria has returned, according to those monitoring Web traffic in the region, as well as Syrian media reports. Internet monitoring firm Renesys said this morning that Web traffic resumed in Syria after a 19.5-hour outage -- from 6:45 UTC on Tuesday to 2:13 UTC today."

The BBC added, "Local state-run media had reported earlier that a 'fault in optical fibre cables' was to blame for the blackout. However, experts dismissed this explanation as 'unlikely.' David Belson, of Akamai, said: 'Our monitoring shows that Syria's international internet connectivity is through at least four providers, and published submarine cable maps show connectivity through three active cables. As such, the failure of a single optical cable is unlikely to cause a complete internet outage for the country.'"

According to Nicole Perlroth with The New York Times, "someone with access to the physical connections dropped the Border Gateway Protocol, or B.G.P., routes into Syria in such a way that any information trying to enter the country was not able to find its way.... The same technique was used to shut down the Internet and mobile phone service last November. Syrian government officials said terrorists, not the government, were responsible for that outage, but evidence pointed to government involvement. Ironically, Syrian opposition groups are more immune to Internet and cellphone outages than ordinary Syrians. In Syria’s opposition-controlled territories, rebels have successfully built an alternate system of Internet and cellphone connectivity using two-way satellite devices."

InformationWeek's Matthew J. Schwartz noted, "Renesys CTO [Jim] Cowie said the latest Syrian Internet blackout shouldn't be surprising, given that the country remains in the midst of a bloody civil war. 'In the middle of the chaos and tragedy of civil war, why is anyone surprised when the Internet stops working?' he said. 'Isn't it actually more shocking and noteworthy that the Internet in Syria actually functions pretty well 360 days out of the year?'"

Tags: outage, Internet, downtime, Syria

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