View Full Version : How to Foil a Nationwide Internet Shutdown

Magda Hassan
01-28-2011, 11:38 PM
The comments following this article at the link are also very informative.

How to Foil a Nationwide Internet Shutdown (http://lifehacker.com/5746046/how-to-foil-a-nationwide-internet-shutdown)

http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/17/2011/01/500x_1200-title-egypt-internet-shutdown_02.jpg (http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/17/2011/01/1200-title-egypt-internet-shutdown_02.jpg)The Egyptian government cut internet connections across their country to silence protests, leaving nearly all of its citizens without online access. But they weren't entirely successful. When governments shut down broadband and mobile connections, here's what to do.
What's Going on Now?

If you haven't been keeping up with the story, here's the gist. Citizens across Egypt are protesting their government in unprecedented numbers, and its believed that the internet played a major role in the protests. So what did the Egyptian government do? First, they started blocking domain name servers (DNS)—the phone book of the internet—but citizens circumvented this limitation by using proxy servers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy_servers). In reaction, the government cut broadband connections to the web and forced mobile providers to do the same. For more details, read Gizmodo's take on how Egypt turned off the internet (http://gizmodo.com/5746121/how-egypt-turned-off-the-internet). The result: a nationwide internet blackout that's preventing Egyptian citizens from communicating online. To put it bluntly, this sucks. But it's still not good enough. We're going to look at how Egyptian citizens can (and are) circumventing the problem.
Old School Internet

http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/17/2011/01/340x_1200-oldcomp.jpgUnless the Egyptian government kills all of the phone lines as well, you might remember one means of getting online that broadband has since relegated to obsolescence: dial-up. While there's no Egyptian ISP that will allow internet access to Egyptian citizens, other countries will, meaning any Egyptian citizen with long-distance calling capabilities can break out their old school 56k modem and dial-up an ISP in another country. (Sure it's going to be a slow connection, but you can survive (http://lifehacker.com/140120/geek-to-live--how-to-survive-a-slow-internet-connection).)
Several ISPs—such as Budget DialUp (http://www.budgetdialup.com/html/support_access_1.htm)—offer dial-up numbers all over the globe. Some ISPs in other countries are offering free access to Egyptians specifically in response to the Egyptian government's actions. According to twitter user (http://twitter.com/ioerror/statuses/31030346854170624#) @ioerror (http://twitter.com/ioerror), French ISP FDN is one of them:

Egypt can use this number for dial up: +33172890150 (login 'toto' password 'toto') - thanks to a French ISP (FDN)#egypt (http://lifehacker.com/tag/egypt/) #jan25 (http://lifehacker.com/tag/jan25/)
Others report (http://twitter.com/EgyptFreedomNow/status/30890828679348224#) that even DSL is still a possibility:

@SultanAlQassemi DIAL-UP ISP IS WORKING. DSL still working#Egypt,Try their Dial up numbers (0777 7770),(0777 7000) SPREAD THE WORD #jan25 (http://lifehacker.com/tag/jan25/)
http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/17/2011/01/thumb160x_1200-56k-modem.jpgWhile dial-up isn't an ideal means of getting online for most of us, it's still a perfectly effective means of connecting when your government shuts down the internet. And until the Egyptian government shuts down all landline access—another huge step up the censorship ladder—there's not much they can do to completely shut down the internet.

Do you have resources that can help?

If you know of additional options to help Egyptians stay connected and keep the lines of communication open, please share in the comments or contact us directly. We'll keep updating the post with new information as we find it.
Here are the resources you're sending in as we get them:

Harness the power of the cloud and TOR to get Egyptians a better connection (https://www.accessnow.org/proxy-cloud/page/join-the-cloud)

You can contact Adam Dachis, the author of this post, at adachis@lifehacker.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/adachis) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/AdamDachisFanPage).

Peter Lemkin
01-29-2011, 06:53 AM
One of the lesser used ISP in Egypt is still working [apparently because the Egyptian Stock Market and Governmental Agencies use it]...but most citizens don't know this and most wouldn't know how to connect via it. Noor is the only one up still. If you can get that word to persons in Egypt!

More of concern to me is how we in the so-called 'developed' (sic) world handle when they pull the internet and mobile phone plug on us!.....plan ahead...its coming soon, IMO.
Egypt cuts off internet access

By Charles Arthur
Friday 28 January 2011

Most of the major internet service providers in Egypt are offline following week-long protests

Egypt appears to have cut off almost all access to the internet from inside and outside the country from late on Thursday night, in a move that has concerned observers of the protests that have been building in strength through the week.

“According to our analysis, 88% of the ‘Egyptian internet’ has fallen off the internet,” said Andree Toonk at BGPmon, a monitoring site that checks connectivity of countries and networks.

“What’s different in this case as compared to other ‘similar’ cases is that all of the major ISP’s seem to be almost completely offline. Whereas in other cases, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were typically blocked, in this case the government seems to be taking a shotgun approach by ordering ISPs to stop routing all networks.”

The cutoff appears to have happened around 10.30pm GMT on Thursday night.

Only one internet service provider appears to still have a working connection to the outside world: the Noor Group, for which all 83 routes are working, and inbound traffic from its connection provider, Telecom Italia, also working.

Protests in Egypt at the government’s rule have been building all week, and Friday was expected to see the largest demonstrations so far.

An analysis by Renesys, which provides real-time monitoring of internet access, says that “every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, internet cafe, website, school, embassy and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air.”

That has caused concern among observers who believe that internet access – which the Egyptian government limited earlier this week by cutting off social networks – is essential to ensure that government acts responsibly towards its citizens. Tim Bray, an engineer at Google, tweeted: “I feel that as soon as the world can’t use the net to watch, awful things will start happening.”

Renesys found that: “At 22:34 UTC (00:34am local time), Renesys observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the internet’s global routing table. Approximately 3,500 individual BGP [Border Gateway Protocol] routes were withdrawn, leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange internet traffic with Egypt’s service providers. Virtually all of Egypt’s internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide.”

The company notes that Noor Group is the only working connection: “Why was Noor Group apparently unaffected by the countrywide takedown order? Unknown at this point, but we observe that the Egyptian Stock Exchange is still alive at a Noor address.”

Magda Hassan
01-29-2011, 06:57 AM
It's Noor. That is the name of the company who the stock market use. They wouldn't dare pull it on the share market. Then you'd see a real revolution :moon:

Peter Lemkin
01-29-2011, 07:11 AM
It's Noor. That is the name of the company who the stock market use. They wouldn't dare pull it on the share market. Then you'd see a real revolution :moon:

Now there is a great idea....block the internet to Wall Street and London!.....and all other stock markets/exchange markets/metal and commodity markets.....sadly, I don't have the switch....

David Guyatt
01-29-2011, 09:15 AM
So, which provider does the British Grovelment and London financial services industry use?

Just thinking ahead....:gossip:

Peter Lemkin
01-29-2011, 09:51 AM
So, which provider does the British Grovelment and London financial services industry use?

Just thinking ahead....:gossip:

That indeed would be good to know, but I fear in such a developed security state, they have a proprietary one you couldn't get service on.....my guess.

One VERY expensive way to get around this is to get a direct satellite connection to the internet. Perfectly straight forward, but quite expensive. Oh, and add electrical generation [solar best] and storage for when they shut off the electricity too. Norway is the only country I know that subsidizes satellite internet connections for isolated homes and towns in the north and islands. It is available anywhere and it takes only a special antenna and adapter card on your end...

Addendum...Prices here (http://www.bizarnet.ro/html/servpreturi_en.asp?pagina=oneway#unlimited_traffic )..... [these are one way [download only] Two-way are more expensive plans....up to 24,000$ per year and more! Groups of homes near each other can share a connection and the price.

Ed Jewett
01-30-2011, 05:11 AM
Communicate if Your Government Shuts Off Your Internet

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Scenario: Your government is displeased with the communication going on in your location and pulls the plug on your internet access, most likely by telling the major ISPs to turn off service.
This is what happened in Egypt January 25 prompted by citizen protests, with sources estimating that the Egyptian government has cut off approximately 88 percent of the country's internet access. What do you do without Internet? Step 1: Stop crying in the corner. Then start taking steps to reconnect with your network. Here’s a list of things you can do to keep the communication flowing.
This article is part of a wiki anyone can edit. If you have advice to add, please log in and contribute.


1 Preventative measures (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Communicate_if_Your_Government_Shuts_Off_Your_Inte rnet#Preventative_measures)

1.1 Make your network tangible (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Communicate_if_Your_Government_Shuts_Off_Your_Inte rnet#Make_your_network_tangible)
1.2 Broadcast on the radio (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Communicate_if_Your_Government_Shuts_Off_Your_Inte rnet#Broadcast_on_the_radio)
1.3 Phone (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Communicate_if_Your_Government_Shuts_Off_Your_Inte rnet#Phone)
1.4 Fax (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Communicate_if_Your_Government_Shuts_Off_Your_Inte rnet#Fax)

2 Getting back online (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Communicate_if_Your_Government_Shuts_Off_Your_Inte rnet#Getting_back_online)

2.1 Find the privately-run ISPs (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Communicate_if_Your_Government_Shuts_Off_Your_Inte rnet#Find_the_privately-run_ISPs)
2.2 Ad-Hoc Networking (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Communicate_if_Your_Government_Shuts_Off_Your_Inte rnet#Ad-Hoc_Networking)

3 Get satellite access (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Communicate_if_Your_Government_Shuts_Off_Your_Inte rnet#Get_satellite_access)
4 Packet Radio (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Communicate_if_Your_Government_Shuts_Off_Your_Inte rnet#Packet_Radio)

Preventative measures

Make your network tangible

Print out you contact list so your phone numbers aren’t stuck in the cloud. Some mail services like Gmail allow you to export your online contact list in formats that are more conducive to paper, such as CSV or Vcard, and offer step-by-step guides (http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=24911) on how to do this.
Broadcast on the radio

CB Radio: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_band_radio) Short for "Citizens Band" radio, these two-way radios allow communication over short distances on 40 channels. You can pick one up for about $20-50 at Radio Shack and no license is required to operate it.
Ham radio: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_radio) To converse over these radios, also known as "Amateur radios," you have to obtain an operator's license from the FCC. Luckily, other Wired How-To contributors have already explained exactly what you need to do (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Become_a_Ham_Radio_Operator) to get one and use it like a pro.

Set up a phone tree: According to the American Association of University Women (http://www.aauw.org/act/issue_advocacy/phonetree.cfm), a phone tree is "a prearranged, pyramid-shaped system for activating a group of people by telephone" that can "spread a brief message quickly and efficiently to a large number of people." Dig out that contact list you printed out and follow the steps on the AAUW website (http://www.aauw.org/act/issue_advocacy/phonetree.cfm) to spread the message down your pyramid of contacts.
Enable Twitter via SMS: Though the thought of unleashing the twitter fire hose in your text message inbox may seem horrifying, it would be better than not being able to connect to the outside world at all. The twitter website has full instructions on how to redirect tweets to your phone (http://support.twitter.com/entries/14014-twitter-phone-faqs).
Alex Jones and infowars.com have a telelphone number for people to listen to his radio show by phone in case the internet goes down, or if you don't have internet. The phone in listen line is 512-646-5000.

If you need to quickly send and receive documents with lengthy or complex instructions, phone conversations may result in misunderstandings and delivering the doc by foot would take forever. Brush the dust off that bulky old machine, establish a connection by phone first with the recipient to make sure his machine is hooked up, then fax away.
Getting back online

While it might be relatively easy for a government to cut connections by leveraging the major ISPs, there are some places they wouldn't get to so readily, like privately-owned networks and independent ISPs.
Find the privately-run ISPs

In densely populated areas, especially CBDs and city suburbs there are multiple home WiFi networks overlapping each other, some secure some not. If there is no internet, open up your WiFi by removing password -- if enough people do this it's feasible to create a totally private WiFi service outside government control covering the CBD and you can use applications that run Bonjour (iChat on Mac for example) to communicate with others on the open network and send and receive documents. **needs more clarification
If you are a private ISP, it's your time to shine. Consider allowing open access to your wi-fi routers to facilitate communication of people around you until the grid is back online.
Return to dial-up? o_O
Ad-Hoc Networking

Most wireless routers, PCs, laptops, and even some ultra-mobile devices like cell phones have the ability to become part of an "ad-hoc" network, where different "nodes" (all of the devices on the network) share the responsibility of transmitting data between one another. These networks can become quite large, and are often very easy to set up. If used properly by a tech-savvy person, such networks can be used to host temporary websites and chatrooms. There are many internet tutorials on the internet for ad-hoc networking, so feel free to google some.
Apple computers tend to have very accessible Ad-Hoc functionality built in, including a pre-installed chat client (iChat) that will automatically set up an Ad-Hoc "Rendezvous" chatroom between anybody on the network, without the need for an external service like AIM or Skype. Ad-hoc network hosting functionality is built in to the Wifi menu.
Windows computers have several third-party Ad-Hoc chat applications available (such as Trillian) and setting up an Ad-Hoc wifi network is almost as simple as on a Mac.
Linux operating systems, of course, have plenty of third-party apps available, and most distros have Ad-Hoc network creation support built in.
Get satellite access

You can have very, very slow internet if you have something similiar like an Iridium phone, which would allow you to do dial-up at 2400 baud, which at least gives you email. This will also work when your government has shut down GSM and telephone access, and will work pretty much anywhere on the planet. If you're in the right place, get yourself KA-SAT access (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KA-SAT) which is satellite broadband and will not be routed through any Internet exchange certain local governments may monitor or block (unless that government is part of EU or err... uncle Sam.
Packet Radio

Back to the 90s: there do exist short wave packet radio modems. These are also excruciatingly slow, but may get your email out.

This page was last modified 21:41, 29 January 2011 by fruttaman (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/User:Fruttaman?action=edit). Based on work by wwbsp (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/User:Wwbsp?action=edit), mymatecoxy (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/User:Mymatecoxy?action=edit), darkmagentarose (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/User:Darkmagentarose?action=edit) and howto_admin (http://howto.wired.com/wiki/User:Howto_admin).

http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Communicate_if_Your_Government_Shuts_Off_Your_Inte rnet

Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts It Down

By Patrick Miller, David Daw (http://www.pcworld.com/author/Patrick%20Miller,%20David%20Daw), PCWorld (http://www.pcworld.com/) Jan 28, 2011 3:50 PM
These days, no popular movement goes without an Internet presence of some kind, whether it's organizing on Facebook or spreading the word through Twitter. And as we've seen in Egypt (http://www.pcworld.com/article/218052/egypt_expands_communications_blackout.html), that means that your Internet connection can be the first to go. Whether you're trying to check in with your family, contact your friends, or simply spread the word, here are a few ways to build some basic network connectivity when you can't rely on your cellular or landline Internet connections.
Do-It-Yourself Internet With Ad-Hoc Wi-Fi

Even if you've managed to find an Internet connection for yourself, it won't be that helpful in reaching out to your fellow locals if they can't get online to find you. If you're trying to coordinate a group of people in your area and can't rely on an Internet connection, cell phones, or SMS, your best bet could be a wireless mesh network (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_mesh_network) of sorts--essentially, a distributed network of wireless networking devices that can all find each other and communicate with each other. Even if none of those devices have a working Internet connection, they can still find each other, which, if your network covers the city you're in, might be all you need. At the moment, wireless mesh networking isn't really anywhere close to market-ready, though we have seen an implementation of the 802.11s draft standard, which extends the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard to include wireless mesh networking, in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO laptop (http://www.pcworld.com/article/140931/first_look_olpcs_xo_laptop.html).
http://zapp5.staticworld.net/howto/graphics/218155-daihinia_180.pngHowever, a prepared guerrilla networker with a handful of PCs could make good use of Daihinia (http://daihinia.com/) ($25, 30-day free trial), an app that piggybacks on your Wi-Fi adapter driver to turn your normal ad-hoc Wi-Fi network into a multihop ad-hoc network (disclaimer: we haven't tried this ourselves yet), meaning that instead of requiring each device on the network to be within range of the original access point, you simply need to be within range of a device on the network that has Daihinia installed, effectively allowing you to add a wireless mesh layer to your ad-hoc network.
Advanced freedom fighters can set up a portal Web page on their network that explains the way the setup works, with Daihinia instructions and a local download link so they can spread the network even further. Lastly, just add a Bonjour-compatible chat client like Pidgin (http://pidgin.im/) or iChat, and you'll be able to talk to your neighbors across the city without needing an Internet connection.
Back to Basics

Remember when you stashed your old modems in the closet because you thought you might need them some day? In the event of a total communications blackout--as we're seeing in Egypt, for example--you'll be glad you did. Older and simpler tools, like dial-up Internet or even ham radio, could still work, since these "abandoned" tech avenues aren't being policed nearly as hard.
In order to get around the total shutdown of all of the ISPs within Egypt, several international ISPs are offering dial-up access to the Internet to get protesters online, since phone service is still operational. It's slow, but it still works--the hard part is getting the access numbers without an Internet connection to find them.
http://zapp5.staticworld.net/howto/graphics/218155-fidonet_new_logo_original.pngUnfortunately, such dial-up numbers can also be fairly easily shut down by the Egyptian government, so you could also try returning to FidoNet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FidoNet)--a distributed networking system for BBSes that was popular in the 1980s. FidoNet is limited to sending only simple text messages, and it's slow, but it has two virtues: Users connect asynchronously, so the network traffic is harder to track, and any user can act as the server, which means that even if the government shuts down one number in the network, another one can quickly pop up to take its place.
You could also take inspiration from groups that are working to create an ad-hoc communications network into and out of Egypt using Ham Radio (http://werebuild.eu/wiki/Egypt/Main_Page#Hamradio), since the signals are rarely tracked and extremely hard to shut down or block. Most of these efforts are still getting off the ground, but hackers are already cobbling together ways to make it a viable form of communication into and out of the country.
Always Be Prepared

In the land of no Internet connection, the man with dial-up is king. Here are a few gadgets that you could use to prepare for the day they cut the lines.
Given enough time and preparation, your ham radio networks could even be adapted into your own ad-hoc network using Packet Radio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Packet_radio), a radio communications protocol that you can use to create simple long-distance wireless networks to transfer text and other messages between computers. Packet Radio is rather slow and not particularly popular (don't try to stream any videos with this, now), but it's exactly the kind of networking device that would fly under the radar.
http://zapp5.staticworld.net/howto/graphics/218155-terminal-node-controller-2400-denis-apel_180.jpgIn response to the crisis in Egypt, nerds everywhere have risen to call for new and exciting tools for use in the next government-mandated shutdown. Bre Pettis, founder of the hackerspace NYC Resistor (http://www.nycresistor.com/) and creator of the Makerbot (http://www.makerbot.com/) 3D printer, has called for "Apps for the Appocalypse (http://www.brepettis.com/blog/2011/1/28/apps-for-the-appocolypse.html)," including a quick and easy way to set up chats on a local network so you can talk with your friends and neighbors in an emergency even without access to the Internet. If his comments are any indication, Appocalypse apps may be headed your way soon.
Tons of cool tech are also just waiting to be retrofitted for these purposes. David Dart's Pirate Box (http://wiki.daviddarts.com/PirateBox) is a one-step local network in a box originally conceived for file sharing and local P2P purposes, but it wouldn't take much work to adapt the Pirate Box as a local networking tool able to communicate with other pirate boxes to form a compact, mobile set of local networks in the event of an Internet shutdown.
Whether you're in Egypt or Eagle Rock, you rely on your Internet access to stay in touch with friends and family, get your news, and find information you need. (And read PCWorld, of course.) Hopefully with these apps, tools, and techniques, you won't have to worry about anyone--even your government--keeping you from doing just that.
Patrick Miller hopes he isn't first against the wall when the revolution comes. Find him on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/pattheflip)or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Patrick-Miller/182003891816882)--if you have a working Internet connection, anyway.
David Daw is an accidental expert in ad-hoc networks since his apartment gets no cell reception. Find him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#%21/DavidHDaw/) or send him a ham radio signal.

See more like this:
internet (http://www.pcworld.com/search.html?qt=internet&s=d&tk=srch_art_tag),
network security (http://www.pcworld.com/search.html?qt=network+security&s=d&tk=srch_art_tag)

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