back to article Internet shut-down easier, in more countries, than you think

Given Syria’s recent “have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?” Internet experience, analysing what other countries this might happen to is a good idea. It’s a particularly pertinent question given the current America-Versus-The-Black-Helicopters scenario currently playing out at WCIT, as countries line up …


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  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Canada particularly vulnerable

    Carrier Pigeons less willing to work in the cold.

  2. Katie Saucey

    "Poor suffering New Zealand has one trans-Pacific connection..."

    Apparently not for long if Kim Dotcom is to be believed.

    1. stuartnz

      Re: "Poor suffering New Zealand has one trans-Pacific connection..."

      " if Kim Dotcom is to be believed"

      As "if"s go, that's kind of supermassive black hole type size. The only thing less reliable than his self-serving media hogging pronouncements is our poor PM's increasingly erratic memory, it seems. The two of them deserve each other, but not as much as NZ deserves and desperately needs at least one more trans-Pac cable. .

      1. Katie Saucey

        Re: "Poor suffering New Zealand has one trans-Pacific connection..."

        Sorry stuartnz, forgot the /sarcasm on that last post.

        1. stuartnz

          Re: "Poor suffering New Zealand has one trans-Pacific connection..."

          Yes, I figured it was implicit, but thought I would make it explicit just in case. :)

          1. Robert Grant

            Re: "Poor suffering New Zealand has one trans-Pacific connection..."

            Er, how were you being sarcastic? You think Kim Dotcom should be believed, that he and the PM don't deserve each other, and that NZ doesn't need another cable?

    2. Christian Berger

      Re: "Poor suffering New Zealand has one trans-Pacific connection..."

      I wouldn't trust Kim further than I can throw him... which is obviously not far.

  3. Pomgolian

    Kim Dotcom

    I for one, welcome our transpacific fibre cable toting germanic overlords.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very true

    I agree with the article, having worked on call during the Taiwan 2006 earthquake. Lots of people rapidly discovered an awful lot of Asia's infrastructure passed close to Taiwan, despite the logical wavelengths supposedly being diverse: it's a bit like CDO's, wavelengths are merrily resold all over the place. The company I work for requires fiber maps for just this reason now.

    Another country that's a little under estimated is Ireland: just one transatlantic link landing in Londonderry, and three others crossing the Irish Sea

  5. localzuk Silver badge


    You think a country like the USA or UK couldn't group a bunch of its troops into enough squads to go to each ISP in the country and turn it all off?

    That just seems a little naive.

    1. SMabille

      Re: Really?

      No need to go to every ISP.... just shutdown a few main pairing nodes (Telehouse should be enough, Telecity too if needed), and the net will crumble.

  6. Tim Starling

    Number of phone calls

    Renesys describes the metric as a first approximation to the "the number of phone calls (or legal writs, or infrastructure attacks) that would have to be performed in order to decouple the domestic Internet from the global Internet."

    Governments in developed countries have a fairly large capacity for making phone calls. If the government of, say, the Netherlands passed a law requiring a shutdown of international transit, I find it hard to believe that the need to make a few hundred phone calls would prevent its implementation. Major ISPs would prefer to shut down than face criminal charges, but even if they didn't, there are enough police in the Netherlands to visit every organisation with an AS number, if that proved necessary.

    The Rensys article made the interesting point that the government of Afghanistan is effectively powerless to shut down the internet in that country. Perhaps a better metric could have been constructed by dividing the route diversity by some measure of government power.

    1. Christian Berger

      Re: Number of phone calls

      True, the better metric would be ISPs who have previously refused to comply with such oppressive laws.

  7. Adrian Midgley 1
    Big Brother


    an excellent novel, contains discussion of this.

    I fancy a wireless mesh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cryptonomicon

      ultrawideband ad-hoc wireless mesh network is the way to go, but watch out for the grey and black nodes!

  8. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Pulling the wrong thing

    It all depends what the "puller"'s motivation is.

    Given that a country (and here I mean specifically a western democracy or the UK) would feel the need to deny its citizens access to news and information to/from abroad, what would they have to do to achieve that?

    The first thing would be to switch off the landline & mobile phone networks. I doubt that would be too difficult and wouldn't even need the use of (much) force - just a quiet word and a soft <click> in the right ears would be enough.

    To do the same to the internet wouldn't be much harder. Forget all the stuff about routing and IP and resilience, the simplest way is to attack the physical layer. Half an hour's work with some cable cutters (remember: to get to this point, we're already well past the suspension of democracy and looking Martial Law in the eye) would do the trick.

    All that would leave would be a few hardy souls with direct satellite feeds. Since you'd have to be desperate, cut off and completely isolated to even contemplate the cost/slowness and inconveinece of satellite internet, those few individuals probably have little idea of what's going on, anyway.

    1. Vic

      Re: Pulling the wrong thing

      > All that would leave would be a few hardy souls with direct satellite feeds.

      And Radio HAMs.


      1. Gareth 7

        Re: Don't forget the radio HAMs

        Sssshh, don't mention the fact that we've got 44.x.x.x all to ourselves.

        or they'll all want a piece.

  9. Steve Barnett
    Thumb Up

    Good report, if a little over simplistic

    Twitter is still working in Syria courtesy of some clever tech and as someone pointed out 3g wireless into a neighbouring country is an option for many. Also it is less straightforward to close down commercial or non-government dependent service providers; hence the Syrian government seems to have resorted to high explosives actually 'blowing up' Internet exchanges

  10. lukewarmdog

    Blowing stuff up

    Personally I'd leave all the hardware in place, who knows when your dictatorship might actually win its battle and need the Internet to announce this. A few well placed people pulling plugs at APNIC et al would conceal what was going on quite easily.

  11. tim 4

    high-altitude- flashy-thing!

    but seriously, nothing beats the old EMP for shutting down the net.... and some of the newer toys can be used at lower alts to bust local zones, shutting down selected target areas. just replace infrastructure as necessary afterwards if you wish....

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