How Egypt Killed the Internet

How Egypt Killed the Internet

In the case of Egypt, it was probably done with a few phone calls, says Jim Cowie, the co-founder and chief technology officer of Renesys Corp., a company that analyzes how the Internet is performing around the world.

Egypt severed mobile and Web communications late Thursday, the Journal reported.

Mr. Cowie said in an interview with Digits that he isn’t privy to how Egypt actually shut down the Web but outlined a scenario based on his “knowledge of how the Internet is structured.”

“People have talked about a ‘kill switch’” that would link to every router and be able to shut each one off from a central location, “but that is not realistic,” he said. “What is most likely is that somebody in the government gives a phone call to a small number of people and says, ‘Turn it off.’ And then one engineer at each service provider logs into the equipment and changes the configuration of how traffic should flow.”

Comment: Interesting chart associated with the article (Wall Street Journal)


  1. Where are The Pirate Bay and Anonymous when we need them?

    I had wondered if people there would start to use HAM radios for communication.


  2. More on: Egypt Leaders Found ‘Off’ Switch for Internet

    Interviews with many of those engineers, as well as an examination of data collected around the world during the blackout, indicate that the government exploited a devastating combination of vulnerabilities in the national infrastructure.

    For all the Internet’s vaunted connectivity, the Egyptian government commanded powerful instruments of control: it owns the pipelines that carry information across the country and out into the world.

    Internet experts say 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.


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