Syria shuts down the Internet

Posted by Andree Toonk - November 29, 2012 - BGP instability - 9 Comments

As of 10:27 UTC this morning the majority of the Internet in Syria is no longer connected to the rest of the world and can be considered as offline. Syria has only one major provider, AS29256 The Syrian Telecommunications Establishment. This provider is government owned and originates 56 out of 62 Syrian prefixes.

This morning between 10:26 and 10:27 all routes originated by AS29256 (The Syrian Telecommunications Establishment) were withdrawn and became unreachable.
The only Syrian prefixes left in the routing table are 5 prefixes originated by TATA, AS6453. These are the prefixes that are still reachable via TATA:
216.6.0.0/23, 63.243.163.0/24, 116.0.72.0/22, 66.198.39.0/24, 66.198.41.0/24

What happened?
We have no official confirmation about what happened, but similar events in the past [Syria, Egypt] were all government ordered. Because the primary telecom provider is state controlled in Syria, an outage like this is relatively easy to implement by ordering the primary telecom provider to shutdown the external links or BGP sessions with the external providers. External providers that provide services to Syria are:
AS9121 Turk Telecom
AS6762 telecom Italia
AS3491 PCCW Global
AS6453 Tata
Not the first outage

Brief country wide outage earlier this week

Our historical data shows that Syria had an outage of similar scale earlier this week on November 25th at 08:46 when it lost the same number of prefixes for ~10minutes.
This might have been a test run, or perhaps more likely indicate that the outage is the result of damage to the physical infrastructure( optical fiber, radio links, routers, data centres, power) that makes the Internet work in Syria .

Update Fri 30 Nov 2012 02:15 UTC
The last 5 remaining Syrian prefixes originated by TATA are down as of 23:45 UTC. Syria is now 100% offline!

Brief sign of life
There was a brief sign of life from the Syrian prefixes announced by TATA (AS6453). BGP updates for these prefixes were briefly seen between 15:50 and 15:52 as well as between 17:39 and 17:43, UTC times on November 30th.

A brief restoration of power could be one reason for this short sign of life.

Back Online (Dec 1st, 14:32)
Internet connectivity to Syria has been returned and all Syrian prefixes are now back online. Connectivity was restored at 14:32 UTC (Dec 1st) via AS3491 PCCW Global, AS6453 Tata and AS6762 telecom Italia.
About 1,5 hours later at 15:58 Syria’s connection with Turk Telecom was also re-established.

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