Egyptian govt. exploited national infrastructure to cripple Internet: Experts

February 16th, 2011 - 3:48 pm ICT by ANI  

Cairo, Feb 16(ANI): Interviews with many Egyptian engineers, as well as an examination of data collected around the world during the five-day Internet blackout in the country during the anti-government protests, indicate that the Hosni Mubarak government had exploited a devastating combination of vulnerabilities in the national infrastructure.

According to the New York Times, the government’s attack left Egypt not only cut off from the outside world, but also with its internal systems in a sort of comatose state: servers, cables and fiber-optic lines were largely up and running, but too confused or crippled to carry information.

The engineers said that the focal point of the attack was an Internet exchange in Cairo that serves as the connection point for fiber-optic links provided by five major network companies that provide the bulk of the Internet connectivity going into and out of the country.

They also said that one of the government’s strongest levers is Telecom Egypt, a state-owned company, which virtually owns all the country’s fiber-optic cables, with other Internet service providers being forced to lease bandwidth on those cables in order to do business.

“In Egypt the actual physical and logical connections to the rest of the world are few, and they are licensed by the government and they are tightly controlled,” said Wael Amin, President of ITWorx, a large software development company based in Cairo.

Jim Cowie, chief technology officer of a network management company that has closely monitored Internet traffic from Egypt, said: “They drilled unexpectedly all the way down to the bottom layer of the Internet and stopped all traffic flowing.”

“With the scope of their shutdown and the size of their online population, it is an unprecedented event,” he added.

The experts further said that similar arrangements are more common in authoritarian countries than is generally recognized.

In Syria, for example, the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment dominates the infrastructure, and the bulk of the international traffic flows through a single pipeline to Cyprus.

Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries have the same sort of dominant, state-controlled carrier.

Over the past several days, activists in Bahrain and Iran have claimed that they have seen strong evidence of severe Internet slowdowns amid protests there. (ANI)

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |