The Egyptian Internet is restored

The Egyptian Internet is restored

Summary: After its unprecedented take down of the Internet, the Egyptian government has restored the Internet, just in time to reveal pro-Mubarak thugs attacking protesters and journalists.


Any illusion that anyone had about the Internet being unbreakable were shattered last week, when Egypt took down the Internet. In Egypt, at least, turning off the Internet turned out to be easy. There were network work-arounds to get to the Internet, but, frankly, they didn't work that well. Now, the Egyptian government has turned the Internet back on.

In essence, that really is what the government did. There was no need for any fancy networking tuning. The Egyptian officials just called up the Egyptian ISPs and told them to switch their core-routers and Domain Name Service (DNS) servers on at about 11 AM local time, 5 AM U.S. Eastern time and within half-an-hour, most of the Egyptian Internet and its associated Web sites was back up again. As Dr. Craig Labovitz, chief scientist for Arbor Networks, a network security company, told me. "All major Web sites and providers now appear reachable again."

According to James Cowie CTO of Renesys, an Internet analytics firm, "All major Egyptian ISPs appear to have re-advertised routes to their domestic customer networks in the global routing table, with the exception of Noor Group." Noor, which hosts the Egyptian Stock Exchange, had been the last Egyptian ISP to go dark. It has since come up as well.

Other Internet watchers at the North American Network Operators' Group (NANOG), an Internet administrator and research group also reported that the Egyptian Internet, both the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) [the Internet's routing protocol] and DNS were up again. BGPMon, a company that monitors BGP and produces network analysis software, also reported "the first signs of life from the previously unreachable Egyptian networks. We saw the first BGP announcements for Egypt come in at 09:30:48 UTC. And as of 10:52 UTC the website of Noor data networks was reachable again. It looks like the majority of the providers are now back."

Cowie is also reporting that bringing up Egypt's Internet "wasn't totally smooth; a few larger network blocks belonging to the Egyptian Universities Network (EUN) were still missing. Unfortunately, these included the address space that hosts the ".eg"top level domain servers. The routes have since recovered."

I, however, at about noon Eastern Time, am still having trouble reaching the main EUN and its associated sites. This troubles me, especially since EUN hosts the main .eg [Egypt's TLD (Top Level Domain) DNS servers. I fear, in the light of growing violence in Egypt that the Egyptian Internet may yet face troubles this time from demonstrators rather than from a dictatorial order.

Egypt's Internet may up for now, but as pro-Mubarak thugs take to the streets, I wouldn't count on it staying up. Journalists are being attacked on the streets of Cairo and the heretofore peaceful protests are taking an ominous turn towards violence. From where I sit, it appears that Egypt's government is taking a more direct and violent approach to stopping communications than just turning off Egypt's core Internet routers.

Topics: Browser, Networking, Telcos

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: The Egyptian Internet is restored


    I don't think that the internet was broken. It worked quite well from where I am. The Internet is a network of networks that was designed to be resilient. That never meant that it was available at all times, everywhere, always. It meant that the network survived any loss of access a specific part of the network might have experienced.

    While it is true that we've seen a demonstration that a country can remove itself from the worldwide conversation being carried on through the Internet, it also was a demonstration that the Egyptian government couldn't taken down the network elsewhere.

    Dan K
  • Rogue Messages

    I am curious if rogue messages, the ones that are stuck in a loop and not getting delivered, got cleaned up by the outage. Or is this an urban legend?
  • RE: The Egyptian Internet is restored

    Steve, this doesn't make sense. Why would Mubarak restore the Internet if he is planning a bloodbath? So the entire world can see it as the Internet comes back up?

    Mubarak has already capitulated, the only question now is when does he leave office. Turning the Internet back on is a concillatory gesture.
  • Seriously?

    "Journalists are being attacked on the streets of Cairo and the heretofore peaceful protests are taking an ominous turn towards violence."

    ""These are not rival factions. This is brown-shirt tactics. This is the government sending in people -- whether they are paid or not is a very subsidiary question -- sending in thugs armed with knives, stones, sticks, to attack the pro-democracy protesters, who were there in an entirely peaceful manner.""

    Try again Steven.

    I love your blog for the most part, but this is just ignorant.
    You know Linux, but you might want to do more research on politics before you post.