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Syria falls off the internet again

The second time in a fortnight
Wed May 15 2013, 14:36

INTERNET ACCESS in Syria has been cut off for the second time in two weeks.

Web reporting companies have done what they did on 8 May and reported that the internet in Syria has flatlined. Graphs from RIPE NCC and Akamai show the current state of play.

Last time the service interruption was attributed to an "optic cable malfunction". It is possible that this time we will learn that a bird flew into a local server room and while waving their arms around wildly in reaction an admin dislodged a cable from its rightful resting place.

Last time the outage lasted for 19 hours. We are not long into this second one. Monitoring firm Renesys tweeted that it was down earlier this morning.

The downtime, in case it's not clear in itself, has been confirmed by the Syrian News Agency - we think - in a tweeted message.

"Communications Manager: maintenance workshops are crash recovery to restore internet service and country contacts," says a Microsoft Bing translated message posted at 10am this morning.

We aren't expected to think that there is anything fishy going on, and nor were we last time. That's not going to stop the speculation though.

Umbrella Security CTO Dan Hubbard said during the last outage, "Although we can't yet comment on what caused this outage, past incidents were linked to both government ordered shutdowns and damage to the infrastructure, which included fiber cuts and power outages."

Coincidentally Syria is a hot topic at the United Nations today, and there the talk will be about Syrian president Bashar Assad's regime.

Robert Kisteleki, head of research and development at the RIPE NCC, is hedging his bets when it comes to the cause of the problem.

"Our RIPEstat graph for the Syria region is showing an Internet outage as of approx. 07:10 UTC. This could have been caused by a technical fault such as a cable cut or power outage, or as a result of an administrative action," he said.

"In practice, this means that there is no traffic flow between Syria and the rest of the world, so in this situation it is most likely that no Syrian users can access the Internet." µ


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