Internet kill switches

Internet kill switches

January 27: the day the Internet died.

Protests have been ongoing this week in Egypt. There has been a significant amount of press coverage on the political situation. The riots began on the January 25 and then, on January 27, President Hosni Mubarak unplugged Egypt from the Internet.

The reasons given for going dark are that the rioters were using the Web and Internet to coordinate. This makes sense, as we have seen Twitter and other social media sites used in recent unrests. The main concern for InfoSec is the precedence that Mubarak has set.

Will other countries, faced with similar situations, choose to unplug? It seems likely. For example, at the same time Egypt was unplugged, the U.S. re-introduced the “Internet kill switch” bill. (Read the bill at Thomas or see Wired’s kill switch coverage.) Of course, killing the Internet will have economic repercussions.

And that’s what I am thinking about today. Should the Internet be disabled, how would my firm continue to do business? How would we send and receive communications? In terms of InfoSec and engineering, what mitigations could be deployed for this risk?

J Wolfgang Goerlich


How did they do it? Both Ars Technica and Wired have articles on the technical aspects of unplugging. How are people coping? The old standby is modem dialup, although some are calling others to post information, or faxing information out to the Internet. Wired also posted a Wiki on how to communicate if your government shuts off your Internet.

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