The New Threat: Targeted Internet Traffic Misdirection

Traffic interception has certainly been a hot topic in 2013. The world has been focused on interception carried out the old fashioned way, by getting into the right buildings and listening to the right cables. But there’s actually been a significant uptick this year in a completely different kind of attack, one that can be […]

Internet Blackout in Sudan

Update (8:01 ET, 26 Sep): A few hours ago, we observed a total Internet blackout in Sudan and, as we publish this blog, the Internet remains largely unavailable. By count of impacted networks, it is the largest national blackout since Egypt disconnected itself in January 2011. The massive outage came as the government began a […]

Syrian Internet.. Fragility?

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Update (15:26 UTC, 15 May): Routes to Syrian networks have been restored, at 18:26 Damascus time. Outage duration: 8h25m

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Update (14:20 UTC, 15 May): Plot of latency measurements to Syrian hosts from various locations, indicating that replies stopped returning shortly after 7am UTC, aligned with the withdrawal of routes to Syrian networks. (Click image for details)

Update (07:30 UTC, 15 May): Syrian Internet down again since 07:01 UTC (10:00 Damascus time), Wednesday, 15 May 2013. Syrian news agency reports that they’re working to fix. Potentially related to forthcoming UN decision today?

Update: Syrian Internet has returned. Outage lasted 19.5 hours, from 18:45 UTC May 7th to 14:13 UTC May 8th.

As we write, the Syrian people are still disconnected from the global Internet at the most fundamental level, nearly all of their paths withdrawn from the global routing table. Since 18:45 UTC on May 7th, Renesys hasn’t seen a flicker of activity. We haven’t been able to successfully send a ping or a traceroute to any host inside Syria. Government websites, universities, domain name servers, core infrastructure routers, banks, businesses, DSL customers, smartphones: all silent.

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As I look back at what we’ve written about Internet outage over the years, I see a sort of evolution in our perspective. We’ve covered Internet failures due to war, politics, censorship, central planning, earthquakes, hurricanes, cable cuts, business disputes, terrorism, undersea mud volcanoes, and (perhaps) cyberwarfare.

In the early days, we reported each outage breathlessly, shocked that the Internet could fail in such spectacular ways. If you look around the web this morning, you’ll see a lot of that same shock-and-awe reporting from companies who are just discovering the fragilities visible in Internet data.

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Hurricane Sandy: Global Impacts

In our recent posts about Hurricane Sandy, we analyzed the impacts of the super storm on Internet connectivity in the northeastern US.
However, in addition to knocking out power and Internet connectivity in a significant part of the New York metropolitan area, Sandy also had a surprising impact on the world’s Internet traffic, traffic that neither originated from nor was destined to areas affected by the storm.

From locations around the globe as varied as Chile, Sweden and India,
some Internet traffic was forced onto alternate paths to avoid failures at critical transit points in the NYC area.
We’ll take a look at some examples in what follows.

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Hurricane Sandy: Initial Impact

Yesterday, Hurricane Sandy came ashore pummeling the east coast of the United States with high winds and torrential rains. The super storm caused major power and Internet outages in a region that is home to more than 60 million people. Unsurprisingly, the impacts on Internet connectivity have been severe. For instance, several major data centers in Manhattan lost power or were flooded.

Besides all the local impacts to the United States, New York City also happens to be a major hub of international telecommunications. As a result of outages there, we’ve observed Internet traffic shift away from the city as carriers scramble for alternative paths.

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