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Friday
Jan282011

Amid Protests, Egypt Shuts Down the Web

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CAIRO) -- No Google. No Facebook. No Twitter. No Skype. Since about 5:20 a.m. ET Thursday, virtually all of Egypt has been living in a Web-less world. In an effort to silence protesters, the Egyptian government took the unprecedented step of shutting down nearly all Internet and mobile phone access, effectively turning off the Web for most of the country.

Vodafone, second largest telecommunications carrier in Egypt, released a statement Friday saying all telecom companies were ordered by the Egyptian government to shut off service earlier in the day.

"The Egyptian government's actions...have essentially wiped their country from the global map," wrote Jim Cowie, chief technology officer and co-founder of Internet monitoring firm Renesys, on his company's blog.

Egyptian banks, websites, schools, government offices, Internet cafes, homes or businesses that relied one of four major Egyptian Internet service providers are now disconnected from the world, he said, adding that four major mobile phone companies and their customers are also without wireless service.

Cowie said that cutting off a country's Web access to deal with a cyber threat is like cutting off the entire lower half of a person's body after a snake bite to the ankle.

"It's such a blunt attack on yourself," he said. "I'm already stunned that Egypt would dare do this to themselves. ...Imagine how much business with Egypt is done on the Internet every day. If there's no Internet when everything opens up after the weekend, what happens to the trade? What happens to their credit rating on their sovereign debt?"

Craig Labovitz, chief scientist for network security and monitoring firm Arbor Networks, said his company observed a sharp drop off in Internet traffic in Egypt Thursday.

Still, Egyptians could possibly connect to the Web if they have satellite phones or dishes. Those on the borders could also potentially get cell coverage.

"Radio waves don't obey borders," Labovitz said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio