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Mubarak Takes Internet in Egypt offline
January 28th, 2011 | Filed Under: BGP instability -BGPmon.net
Different media are reporting that Internet and other forms of electronic communications are being disrupted in Egypt. Presumably after a government order in response to the protests. Looking at BGP data we can confirm that according to our analysis 88% of the ‘Egyptian Internet’ has fallen of the Internet. In this post I’ll share some observations I made with regards to the reachability of Egyptian networks and providers.
What’s different in this case as compared to other ‘similar’ cases is that all of the major ISP’s seem to be almost completely offline. Whereas in other cases, social media sites such as facebook and twitter were typically blocked. In this case the government seems to be taking a shotgun approach by ordering ISP’s to stop routing all networks.
Below you’ll find a table with the top 10 providers in Egypt. It shows how many Egyptian networks were announced earlier this week and how many are reachable today.
As you can see in the table below, right now most autonomous systems (ISP’s) are no longer announcing any, or at the very least, significantly less prefixes.
Interestingly the only provider that doesn’t seem to be impacted by this is AS20928 (Noor Data Networks).
Below is the list of providers that are still announcing networks (based on routeviews data):
When did this start?
By looking at some Egyptian websites and looking at when they became unreachable we are able to determine when the problem started.
At this point egypt.gov.eg is offline. This network, 188.8.131.52/24 was withdrawn at January 27th at 22:28 UTC . Another example is www.ahram.org.eg an Egyptian news paper. This network 184.108.40.206/24, became unreachable at the exact same time, January 27th at 22:28 UTC.
By James Cowie on January 27, 2011 7:56 PM
Confirming what a few have reported this evening: in an action unprecedented in Internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet. Critical European-Asian fiber-optic routes through Egypt appear to be unaffected for now. But every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air.
At 22:34 UTC (00:34am local time), Renesys observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the Internet's global routing table. 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.
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.
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.
Update (3:06 UTC)
One of the very few exceptions to this block has been Noor Group (AS20928), which still has 83 out of 83 live routes to its Egyptian customers, with inbound transit from Telecom Italia as usual. Why was Noor Group apparently unaffected by the countrywide takedown order? Unknown at this point, but we observe that the Egyptian Stock Exchange (http://www.egyptse.com) is still alive at a Noor address.
Its DNS A records indicate that it's normally reachable at 4 different IP addresses, only one of which belongs to Noor. Internet transit path diversity is a sign of good planning by the Stock Exchange IT staff, and it appears to have paid off in this case. Did the Egyptian government leave Noor standing so that the markets could open next week?