Tag Archives: Egypt

Catching up on Past Subjects, and Other Topics

The Lights are Back On in Cairo

The news from Egypt continues to be troubling, and at the same time, encouraging.  We are truly watching history unfold; people yearning to be free and willing to put everything on the line to achieve that desired state.  This morning, there is news that Egypt is once again, on the global web. (http://tiny.cc/vea5y).  That is wonderful news (being back on the web)!  A side benefit from that is that like-minded peoples’ in Tunisia, Jordan, and other middle-east countries yearning for the same, are using the Egypt ‘model’ to guide them in their own quest for peace.  I am convinced that, just as nature will ALWAYS win out over our puny attempts at taming her, Peace will always win out over oppression.  The life’s blood is, of course, communications.

On the home front, I’m so busy that I rarely take time out for food.  Our Twitter following continues to grow, but at a drastically reduced rate.  It seems that the techniques that I am using are “frowned upon by the good folks in that establishment” (don’t you love those commercials?).  That’s all right; my followers get at least five (quality) tweets a day, and our number of “Sell the Book” tweets are down.

Don’t you like a great transition?  Views from Sandhausen is now on sale at Amazon.co.uk.  Here is the link.  http://tiny.cc/y5p3x . I would really prefer that you buy it from Amazon.com http://tiny.cc/c64zt as my margin is twice what it is in UK,  I did it to make the shipping of the paper books more affordable for our European friends.  Since the eBook has no shipping, buy in the USA please.

I’m currently struggling with a new printer that won’t print, keeping up on all of the new material on writing and publishing, making sure the house is decent for Erik to return, if he ever gets out of Chicago (can you say 20”),

That’s it for now; Time to eat dinner.



Can the Internet be Turned Off?

To clarify an issue, I find I need to add further explanation to yesterday’s post (An Unpresidented Action Occurs).

because of my 38 years as an Information Technology Professional, I have been often asked “Can ‘they’ turn the Internet off?”   I guess that the ‘they’ is obvious, e.g. The Government. 

As to turning the internet off it is no different from securing a farm-house in Kansas; you lock the doors.  There are two common ways to lock the Internet’s doors, ‘tell’ (programatically) every router and switch to not access the central Domain Name System (DNS).  This means that you block access to the central address structure, a huge database “in the sky”.  Without it, no packets can flow down the wires because they don’t ‘know’ where to go, or even where they came from.  This is well and good but can be defeated. 

The only to really ‘turn the internet off’ is to physically unplug every piece of coaxial cable, every CAT-5 cable, and every phone line that goes into and out of every switch and router on the ‘edges’ of the country.   There are 10 Atlantic network beachheads.  There are another half-dozen beachheads on the Pacific coast, and several coming in from Canada and Mexico.  These are the ‘doors’ into the US from the rest of the global internet.  They are both a blessing and a vulnerability; easy to control the traffic through their routers and switches but vulnerable to physical and logical attack.  The diagram below might help in your understanding.

Global Internet Map

As in India’s case, this was catastrophic to the traffic going into, and out of, India.  Fortunately, the fiber lines that go through India, to Asia and the rest of the world were not severed.  In the case of this happening to isolate the United States, the result would be catastrophic; the data world would  go dark immediately.

Stay Warm my friends! You are being protected Still.


Map Credit: Cogent Networks

Button Credit: Uber_Gizmo

An Unprecedented Action Occurs

Seal of the White House Office of Homeland Sec...

Image via Wikipedia

Today’s blog is powered by current events; that being the dissatisfaction of the citizens of Egypt with their opportunities, living conditions, and the fact that the unemployment rate is over 20%.  CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and networks all over the globe, are covering the crisis in real-rime, 24 x 7.  As it is in Egypt, concerning an ally of the United States for 30 years, in the mid-east, etc., etc., it is worthy of our following.  Surely as day follows night, this crisis will affect you, your family and your wallet.  There is nothing that happens in the mid-east that does not affect your wallet!
As an Information Technology Professional (CCP), I was struck by the ease by which authorities were able to take Egypt off the grid.  Four phone calls and the deed was done.  Of course, the land was prepared by Egypt passing legislation to require the Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to ‘pull the plug’ on demand.  I am sure that all governments are either going to pass a law to do so, or have that capability today.

According to InfoWorld. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), has proposed a bill called the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010, that lays out in 196 pages his plans to give the government the right to order ISPs to cut off service in a national emergency and make them pay heavy fines if they refuse to comply. The bill also sets up a sub-bureaucracy under the Department of Homeland Security called the National Center for Communications and Cybersecurity (NCCC). Sen. Lieberman explained that other countries have been enacting legislative systems that allow for such a ‘kill switch’. “Right now China, its government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war, and we need to have that here, too.” 

There is significant opposition to the bill, but on December 15, 2010 the bill was placed on the legislative calendar of the US Senate.

As an Information Technology professional for 38 years, and as one of the pioneers during the birth of the Internet (connected Goodyear in 1991) and as a practitioner of virus ‘Experimentation’ (1982), I can tell you one thing.  Whether this bill passes or not, the United States HAS this capability and will use the capability, in the interest of national security, ANY TIME THAT THEY WANT!

So, on to a great story; my great appreciation goes out to Kyle VanHemert for writing it!

 How Egypt Turned Off the Internet

By Kyle VanHemert

Yesterday, something unprecedented happened: Egypt turned off the internet. A nation of 80,000,000 instantly disconnected. So how’d they do it?

Kill Switch

There was no giant lever or big red button involved, but in reality it was almost as easy: the Egyptian Government simply issued an order for ISPs to shut down service.

“Under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply with it,” Vodafone Egypt explained in a statement shortly after. Along with Vodafone, Egypt’s other three major ISPs, Link Egypt, Telecom Egypt, and Etisalat Misr, all stopped service.


The internet monitoring firm Renesys saw the effects immediately. Some 3,500 Border Gateway Protocol or BGP routes—the places where networks connect and announce which IP addresses they are responsible for—disappeared in an instant:

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.

But Stéphane Bortzmeyer, an IP communications whiz, surmised that Egypt pulled the plug on the net literally: “BGP is the symptom, not the cause. The cables have simply been unplugged.”

Withdrawing BGP routes (or just unplugging cables) is a much more effective way of blocking the internet than, say, turning off DNS, in which case users could use DNS from overseas to access the internet. Compared to Tunisia, where certain BGP routes were blocked or Iran, where internet connections were simply throttled, Egypt’s disconnection is a severe one.

Disconnected (Almost)

As of last night, Renesys estimated that 93% of Egyptian’s networks were unreachable, with only one service provider, the Noor Group, still serving its customers. It’s unclear why they’re the only ones who didn’t get turned off.

Still, reports from Egypt are suggesting that citizens might be able to use dial-up to access the internet, and LifeHacker has the nitty gritty on how to do it. It’s not going to be fast, but it seems like for a vast majority of the Egyptians, it might be the only option. [Renesys, DomainIncite]

Stay Warm my friends! You are being protected, and protected, and P….