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Syria hit with 8-hour Internet blackout

Renesys
Renesys

For the second time this month, Syria went dark.

The global Internet tracking firm Renesys confirmed the outage began at exactly 3 a.m. ET, 10 a.m. in Syria, which is indicated on Google's Transparency report as well.

"Ever since the top of the hour we have not been able to get any measurements to any of the machines that normally respond in Syria," James Cowie, of Renesys, told NBC News.

After an 8-hour and 25-minute break, the firm saw signs that phone lines and Internet activity returned. (Updated 1:15 p.m. ET)

This is Syria's second Internet blackout this month, following a 19-hour blackout that began on May 7. The outage pattern during that event was "very similar" to today's data, Cowie said. "It takes place very quickly, as if a switch was being thrown."

Google's Transparency Report shows a drop in Internet activity in Syria after 3 a.m. ET.Google

Renesys takes the global pulse of the Internet activity by monitoring 1.5 million points world-wide, 350 of which are located in Syria.

So far, the data does not confirm a cause for the outage, though Cowie explains that a partial outage, caused by physical damage to a cable, has a different data signature. Syria has less than three internet service providers, fewer than most countries, which makes it particularly vulnerable to outages, politically driven or otherwise.

"One thing that's interesting is that this time the outage took place right at the top of the hour. To me that's interesting that it's a round number. If disaster strikes, it can strike at any phase of a clock," he says, though he adds that it could "certainly be a coincidence."

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and technology. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.