Syria back online after two-day internet blackout

Syria back online after two-day internet blackout

Summary: According to web monitoring firm Renesys, 'the restoration was achieved just as quickly and neatly as the outage'. However, it may be too early to tell for sure what precisely caused the cutoff on Thursday.

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Internet access was restored to the people of Syria on Saturday, ending a two-day blackout.

The country, which is engaged in a civil war, saw connectivity end on Thursday. This appeared to have been the result of the systematic removal of channels from the edge routers that sit at the borders of the country's core networks.

Mid-afternoon on Saturday, Damascus time, border gateway protocol (BGP) messages began emanating from Syria again, announcing the reconnection of the country.

Although the regime of president Bashar al-Assad had claimed that the disconnection was the result of 'terrorists' cutting cables', internet monitoring firm Renesys said the way in which Syria came back online suggested otherwise. However, the firm warned against coming to firm conclusions at this point.

"The restoration was achieved just as quickly and neatly as the outage: like a switch being thrown," Renesys wrote. "Does that mean that we believe the government (or the opposition) threw the switch? Frankly, the data available just don't support attribution at this point, despite all the speculation.

"The only way we're going to know for sure will be to wait for a resolution to the conflict, at which point we will hear from the people who know for sure: the network engineers in Syria. We hope they're safe and we look forward to hearing their story firsthand."

The blackout made it difficult for the outside world to tell what was going on inside Syria, although the BBC reported the continuation of heavy fighting in the capital and elsewhere.

Topics: Censorship, Broadband, Networking, Outage, Security

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • It could be...

    ...that President Assad and his advisors simply changed their minds. Terrorists cutting the cables doesn't seem all that likely, unless there's only one set of cables to cut, which would suggest that the government is much more interested in control than in reliability.
    John L. Ries