Jan. 28, 2011 at 1:08 PM ET
Last night Egypt virtually vanished from the Internet.
In a blog post, Internet monitoring firm Renesys said it "observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the Internet's global routing table." Renesys reports that "approximately 3,500 individual BGP routes were withdrawn, leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange Internet traffic with Egypt's service providers. Virtually all of Egypt's Internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide."
The sudden drop of Egyptian Internet prefixes shown on the Renesys infograph reveals the startling efficiency with which a government can isolate a country that has few telecom providers. The action is also far and above any previous any Internet shutdown connected to political unrest, as Jame's Cowie points out in the Renesys blog:
This is a completely different situation from the modest Internet manipulation that took place in Tunisia, where specific routes were blocked, or Iran, where the Internet stayed up in a rate-limited form designed to make Internet connectivity painfully slow. The Egyptian government's actions tonight have essentially wiped their country from the global map.
Several hours after Egypt went dark on the Internet, Renesys observed a single outlet still providing service to its Egyptian customers, Noor Group, leaving the Egyptian Stock Exchange available at a Noor address. While it's unknown at this time why Noor is still running, Renesys points out that the Internet transit path diversity is a sign of good planning by the Stock Exchange IT staff:
What happens when you disconnect a modern economy and 80,000,000 people from the Internet? What will happen tomorrow, on the streets and in the credit markets? This has never happened before, and the unknowns are piling up. We will continue to dig into the event, and will update this story as we learn more. As Friday dawns in Cairo under this unprecedented communications blackout, keep the Egyptian people in your thoughts.
More on the crisis in Egypt from Technolog and msnbc.com:
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