ATTENTION: Iran is not disconnected!

Let me repeat, Iran is not disconnected from the Internet!

We have gotten a few queries about why we did not highlight Iran in our review of the network outages that resulted from the cable breaks. (See here, here and here.) Like most countries in the region, the outages in Iran were very significant, but for the most part they did not exceed 20% of their total number of networks. Now 20% is a significant loss, but in the context of an event where countries lost almost all of their connectivity, such a loss did not place Iran into the top 10 of impacted countries. So we focused most of our attention where the losses where the highest.

But then there was this Slashdot posting, claiming Iran had zero connectivity. This was news to us. It’s said that “the first casualty of war is truth.” Something similar can probably be said with regard to catastrophic failures. Truth might not be first, but it is a very close second. Journalists are pushed to meet deadlines for stories about topics for which they have little familiarity, and technical experts sometimes jump to conclusions on the basis of little evidence. It’s not hard to see why the truth gets distorted; it’s hard to think clearly when you believe the sky is falling.

The Slashdot claim was made since a web page at the Internet Traffic Report was reporting that the country was down. This report seems to be based on pings to a single router in Iran from multiple places around the world, which at best only indicates that one router in Iran is unavailable, not that the entire Internet has ceased to function there. Of course, once something ends up “in print”, it tends to gain credibility and then be referenced by others. And before long, large numbers of people think it is actually true. (For a detailed ping analysis to the region during the outage, see this article.)

To understand what happened in Iran after the fiber cuts, we looked at actual routing data for the country, collected from around the globe. You can say with absolute certainty that if a provider does not have a route to any network in Iran, then no traffic will flow from that provider or its customers to Iran. But that is all you can say. The problem could be with the provider. That is why Renesys collects routes from a carefully selected set of peers around the world. If none of them know how to get to Iran, then you can be assured that Iran is truly off the air. Note that you have to be careful here with your selection of peers. If all of them end up traversing the same cable to get to Iran, even when other options exist, then the problem could be only with that cable and nothing more. To make a definitive statement about the worldwide reachability of any geography, you need to collect data from a diverse and at least somewhat independent set of peers so that you’ll see all paths into the area. When the overwhelming majority of them have the same view of a situation, then you can conclude that the view is almost certainly correct for the entire world.

So back to Iran. In the following graph, we plotted the availability of Iranian networks for four entire days, 30 January 00:00 UTC until 3 February 00:00 UTC. The first day is the day of the cable cuts. Of the 695 networks that geo-locate to Iran, at no time were more than 199 unavailable, as observed by large number of Renesys peers. A few peers here and there might not have been able to reach Iran for local reasons, but the vast majority of the world could get to most of the networks in Iran for this entire time period. Note also that around 64 networks were unavailable before the event even started. These networks could be simply unused at this time. In other words, at most 135 networks that were active before the cable cuts disappeared for at least a short while during the outages.



Global Reachability of Iranian Networks

So much for Iran being off the Internet. Again, this is not to imply that Iran was not impacted by this event. A lot of networks were unavailable and some of them continue to be so. The end users of those networks are certainly noticing the problem and everyone in the country might be experiencing a slowdown due to the decrease in bandwidth to the region. Still, Iran fared much better than most.

18 comments
Shahin
Shahin

I am from Iran and I want to confirm what Paymaan mentioned on February 9. what he said was exactly my case, untill last night and everything is back to normal now. I use DSL and I have lost my connection, only and only, with American servers. I could open all non-American websites without problem, and also those American website which use multiple servers around the world. For example, I could open Google News, But not Gmail. So, I switched to Ultrasurf and Freegate to reach my mailbox. what these proxies do is to carry data to Americas from East and Asia instead of the usual westward route.

anthony innes
anthony innes

I just read this morning that a Cable carrying a percentage of China's internet traffic was cut/down.Sorry i do not have the website.But I did see the article.The time zone thing may be keeping this from general awareness.

Arash Naderpour
Arash Naderpour

Internet Traffic Report website is monitoring a router belongs to IUST university witch is no longer exists. it was removed more than a month ago and they did not update it so far, so even before fiber connection problem, according to their report Iran was 100% disconnected. as Iran has a fiber link to Turkey it was not affected like other countries in Persian Gulf region, also SingTel is working fine. I just add a new router to ITR and hope they add it ASAP.

Alan Keizer
Alan Keizer

It is generally thought that tapping of fibre communications is not possible. This is not the case. Tapping fibre optic connections is not difficut if the intruder can gain access to the fibre itself. By introducing a bend of radius of 5 mm into the fibre and collection of light emitted at the bend by the signal carried on the fibre, light from the signal may be collected. Related difficulties are 1) access to the fibre and 2) deconstrucion the communication protocal and decrypting the code. The US has the capability to do both including interdiction of undersea cables via specially equipt submarine. These observations are important for all parties using international communications. Major governments are aware of the reality of fibre security but many private parties belive it is secure. It is unlikely that interruption of Internet communications in the Middle East and Asia are due to US spying as the US is capable of undetected intrusion. This does not mean that syping is not the cause of the interruptions. Less capable intruders may be behind these events. Alan Keizer Director of Engineering FibreFab Limited Milton Keynes

Paymaan Jafari Taayemeh
Paymaan Jafari Taayemeh

Hi everybody, I am from Iran. So let's see an insider's view of what have happened, without looking at charts and graphs first. Since the day cables were cut off, every connection seems strange. I mean, emails get through from my server in the US, torrents can be downloaded, but I can not connect to my own webserver in the US, without problems. I connect through ADSL, but yesterday I tried dial-up, and it worked much better and faster. I compared the ping from dial up and ADSL, and both had a high packet loss of up to over 80% at Iranian exit route and Turkey's exit route. I have tried the same website through the Freegate, and it is flawless and almost fast. (Right now I am writing this though Freegate. So, Some other things might be wrong, maybe data in between is being altered, maybe diconnection is from somewhere else, etc. I have not yet figured it out, but it is really serious, I can not connect to most western sites without several tries and then pages don't download fully or correctly. Paymaan.

Neocon News
Neocon News

Fifth undersea cable cut? So now we’re up to five cables cut? DUBAI - An estimated 1.7 million Internet users in the UAE have been affected by the recent undersea cable damage, an expert said yesterday, quoting recent figures published by TeleGeography, an international ...

SoliderMan
SoliderMan

Heres the deal....About 50% of the middle eastern internet traffic...Like mine is done through satelite NOT underwater cables...So if all the cables were cut there would still be internet, Most of the companies use satelites as a backup anyway.

Zygos Community Links
Zygos Community Links

Once, sure. Twice, Maybe. Three? Four!?! Much of the Middle East has been without reliable internet access recently due to the somewhat suspicious cutting of four seperate underwater cables, in seperate locations, within a few days o

O'Reilly Radar
O'Reilly Radar

Many Eggs, Few Baskets: Understanding the fiber cable cuts... (updated: "fifth cable") The Fiber Cuts in the Middle East are getting a lot of attention. The economic damage is real and the geopolitical issues are extremely complex (which is why I edited my earlier post). From an operations perspective these kinds of...

Ivo
Ivo

I hear there are now at least six cables damaged: SeaMeWe4 and FLAG near Alexandria, Egypt, another FLAG off Dubai, Q-Tel between UAE and Qatar, another cut of SeaMeWe4 near Penang, Malaysia, and a FALCON near Bandar Abbas, Iran. The information comes from here: http://www.albawaba.com/en/countries/uae/221875 Can you confirm the new accidents and update your maps of affected countries?

M Henri Day
M Henri Day

Thanks very much for this posting ! I, too, was taken in by the Slashdot/Internet Traffic Report articles. The problem seems to be the very limited number of providers - in Iran, only one - surveyed by Internet Traffic Report.... Thanks, once again, for clearing up the misunderstanding !... Henri

Data Center Knowledge
Data Center Knowledge

Update on Middle East Cable Cuts Here are some updates on the cable cuts affecting the Middle East, which are the focus of much discussion and speculation.

Earl Zmijewski
Earl Zmijewski

For those of you concerned with Internet connectivity in Iran and Turkey, the following map could be of interest ... http://taeint.net/en/network/middle/ TTnet is one of the two largest providers into Iran. SingTel being the other.

Dominic
Dominic

The internet is down, please wait.... This posting is mostly for my friends who may or many not be internet-savvy enough to know how to look past all the fear mongering and hyperbole that’s been put out there by media regarding the recent network cable breaks overseas. I will try to sum

Telco 2.0
Telco 2.0

Ring! Ring! Hot News, 4th February 2008 Concentrated links, every Monday.

Cynx Cynical World
Cynx Cynical World

Schnipp-Schnapp, Kabel ab Ein guter Teil des Mittelmeerraumes wird langsam aber sicher vom Netz abgeklemmt, dabei sind mindestens zwei Hauptkabel betroffen. Kann so etwas noch Zufall sein?! Nur warum? Mehr dazu Cable Break Cable Break Part II Cable Break Part III Der Iran

CH Internet Szene
CH Internet Szene

Schon wieder ein Seekabel im Mittleren Osten unterbrochen von Fredy K\xFCnzler Angeblich bereits das vierte Seekabel innert Wochenfrist wurde gem\xE4ss Medienberichten im Mittleren Osten unterbrochen. Selbstverst\xE4ndlich sind die Spekulationen am laufen, ob es bloss Zufall sei oder doch das Handwerk von Terroristen.

Raindeer
Raindeer

What I find amazing is the limited amount of connectivity in the middle eastern region at the moment. Alcatel/Lucent and the like will probably be on the first plane out this weekend to convince people they need more fibres going in and out. Governments who want to play a role in the information society will probably want to get more fibre routes coming into their country. I don't think market parties will play the role to provide enough connectivity. They don't want to oversupply a country. but oversupply on multiple routes is necessary to protect against total connectivity failure. I blogged a bit about it.