The Internet goes dark in Egypt

The Internet goes dark in Egypt

Summary: First, Egypt blocked the social networks, now Egypt has blocked the Internet itself.

TOPICS: Browser

First, Egypt blocked social networks like Facebook and Twitter. I had no trouble believing the Egyptian government would do that. But, when I first heard that Egypt had blocked the Internet, I was inclined to doubt the stories. Since then though I’ve heard from a technically savvy source, Renesys, an Internet analytics firm, that Egypt really has blocked the vast majority of its Internet connections. In short, the Egyptian government has cut its people off from the Internet.

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According to James Cowie, Renesys’ CTO, “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.”

Specifically, “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 Approximately 3,500 individual BGP [Border Gateway Protocol] routes were withdrawn, leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange Internet traffic with Egypt's service providers.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.”

I checked this out myself. Using miniRank’s listing of the most popular Egyptian Web sites, I was unable to reach 22 out of the 25 sites. The only sites which were responding were those of major car companies. I presume, from the pages I saw, that I was being re-directed to sites outside of Egypt.

I then looked further and discovered that many of the Egyptian DNS (Domain Name System) servers are not working. For example, as I write this at 11 PM Eastern time,,, and are all returning server failure messages. DNS servers outside of Egypt, used by Egyptian sites, are reporting that are no records for major Egyptian sites.

The Egyptian government really has done it. They’ve essentially shut off their country from the Internet.

There seems to be one significant exception. Cowie wrote, “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 take-down order? Unknown at this point, but we observe that the Egyptian Stock Exchange is still alive at a Noor address.” When I checked, at approximately 11:30 PM Eastern time, the Egyptian Stock Exchange site was still alive.

Still, for the most part, Egypt’s citizens have been cut off from the Internet. We don’t know what will happen now. This is the first time that a government has locked its population out of the world wide community of the Internet. I fear this will not end well.

Topic: Browser

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  • Smart move by the Egypt government

    Smart move by the Egypt government, now it should be real hard for the CIA to poison people minds with "democracy", "freedom" and "human rights" cr*p
    • dark will lead to bright....

      @linuxoid Indeed, given that the US government poisoned Egypt itself by supporting autocrats as in Yemen and Tunisia. Good thing the internet is shut down then they would see that they are close to extricating themselves from US supported dictators/thieves has been the US history in the region for more than 50 years. They will get what you talk about linuxoid when they get rid of that influencial partner of theirs. Why don't you read the real news?
      • Behold the useful idiot

        in his natural state.
      • So, we can assume you were in favor of the overthrow

        of Saddam Hussein, then?
      • frgough: Countries tend to stay free longer...

        ...when they free themselves. What happened in Germany and Japan after WWII was the exception, not the rule, and both countries had a relatively recent history of working constitutional government and free elections, unlike Egypt or Iraq.<br><br>Yes, I was in favor of Saddam Hussein's overthrow, but it would have been much better for all concerned if it had been done by the Iraqi people themselves than by the U.S. and British armies (which I do think was unnecessary). When countries free themselves, the citizens are more likely to value their freedom and to do what is necessary to preserve it. When it's imposed from outside, it's usually not valued, and citizens will often resent it, preferring the home grown dictatorship to any regime imposed by foreigners.
        John L. Ries
      • RE: The Internet goes dark in Egypt

        @Bradish@... My my, I thought at first is was an near eastern propagandist shoveling his drivil, but now I am leaning to the british left whose loyalties are to no one.
      • RE: The Internet goes dark in Egypt

        Oh no, we have one that can see. ;)
      • RE: The Internet goes dark in Egypt

        @Bradish@... I agree @bradish. And to reply to the question about supporting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, I was not in favor of it for the same reason I have not been in favor of the US propping up dictators. Unless a country poses a direct and immediate threat to us, we have no more business meddling in their internal affairs than they would in ours. What has been done in our name over the past 50 years is a horrific stain upon all that we as average citizens of the US believe in. You may recall that it was hawkish short-sightedness that caused us to support Saddam Hussein, to over throw the legally elected government of Iran that led to the ultimate overthrow of the Shah and declaration of the Islamic state we have to contend with now. Why it is that right-leaning Americans seem to believe the US can do no wrong in foreign affairs but be completely inept in domestic affairs is beyond me. Seriously, which has more of a feedback loop with the citizenry?
      • RE: The Internet goes dark in Egypt

        @Bradish@... I agree with frgough. You, sir, are what they call a "useful idiot."

        Everyone, behold and take notice. Avoid them.
      • re: imposed &quot;freedom&quot;

        @John L. Ries

        Have been sying the same for a while and a pity others not seeing the same point. Most "developed" and "democratic" nations fought for their own freedoms - often the hard way - and thus hold that freedom at great value. Alternatively, if you force said "freedom" upon a nation before they are ready to fight for t themselves, are they truly in a place to place any value in it??
      • RE: The Internet goes dark in Egypt

        @Bradish@... Right, and the Egyptians themselves hold no responsibilty for their current condition. Well when this whole thing unfolds, we will then be able to see how the Egyptians like their new rulers!
    • RE: The Internet goes dark in Egypt

      @linuxoid <br>CIA is people's friend here and abroad!<br>Egyptians should protest only against the leaders that do not have endorsemets from the state department!
      Linux Geek
    • Wow.

      @linuxoid Wow. I pity your kind. Who wants to be under a tyrannical government forcing them to comply with whatever they want you to do?
      Not me. Enjoy your move to Egypt.
    • Smart Words!

      @linuxoid You my friend said exactly the truth that people often omit lol
    • RE: The Internet goes dark in Egypt

      Smart? wow no wonder you use linux... btw that OS was cool in 2001 which I think was supposed to destroyed XP...
    • RE: The Internet goes dark in Egypt

      @linuxoid - "Smart Move"? ; "CIA poison peopls minds with Democracy"?

      Are you serious? The CIA would never do anything to bring about a more Democratic/Republic form of governement when a well placed dictator is not only easier to manage but a lot chepaer to put in place.

      Wake up to reality and see whats going on. The US Goovernement has been using the "Lesser of 2 evelis" line of BS for years to justify putting inplace and helping keep in place all kinds of dictorial abominations.

      Would the religous leader alternatives be any better? Maybe, mayve not but at least it would happen without our governement mnmipulating it and without us (the tax paying public) having to pay for it. Perhaps the per person debt of the countyr (estimated at over 1 million US dollar) is not yet large enough for you to staop and say "Wait a minute, is this really a good rason to go further into debt slavery over"
  • Egyptian Stock Exchange is offline now too

    I couldn't reach at 12:48 am ET.
    What will they do next? Shut off the phone system? Close the airports?
    Wow. Just wow.
    Jason D. O'Grady
    • RE: The Internet goes dark in Egypt

      @Jason D. O'Grady seems up form my point of view... My location is Toronto, Ontario... Site seems running ok, as of 1:10AM January 28 2011....<br><br>My DNS (which is OpenDNS) reports that the site is up and ok with valid IP Addresses on their DNS Cache.

      EDIT: as of 2:24am, it's now also down, DNS seems ok, but servers are now offline and unreachable.
      • RE: The Internet goes dark in Egypt

        @zaghy2zy And the efforts of china and thailand and iran are bearing fruit. When closing the net was not considered likly even possible by governments, it is now a reality. And it will now be a continual weapon. Obama and HOlden are looking for legistlation to allow a 'kill switch' for this country "for national security" but it will be there whenever he or the next acorn wants to use it. The telecoms et al will not fight. So the antiwest complaints against our preaching freedom, democracy and human rights may yet be right. Cynical but more likely every day.
    • RE: The Internet goes dark in Egypt

      @Jason D. O'Grady Vodafone has confirmed that it has cut off mobile service at the direct order of the Egyptian government.