Syria 'disappears' from the Internet, security firm says

Data from Google and security firm Umbrella Labs appear to show severe disruption to Internet services in Syria

Internet traffic to and from Syria, which is in the midst of a civil war, appears to have dried up.

At around 18:45 GMT Tuesday, "OpenDNS resolvers saw a significant drop in traffic from Syria. On closer inspection it seems Syria has largely disappeared from the Internet," Umbrella Security Labs said in a blog post Tuesday.

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Data from Google seemed to confirm some sort of disruption to the country's Internet services. As of 2 p.m. Pacific Time Tuesday, all Google's services in the country had been unavailable for about two-and-a-half hours, Google said on its transparency report website.

Routing on the Internet relies on the BGP (Border Gateway Protocol), which distributes routing information and makes sure Internet routers know how to get to certain IP addresses, Umbrella explained. "Currently there are just three routes in the BGP routing tables for Syria, while normally it's close to eighty," the company said.

While traffic to and from the country appeared severely disrupted, Umbrella said it was unclear if Internet services within Syria were still available.

"Effectively, the shutdown disconnects Syria from Internet communication with the rest of the world," the company said.

Syria has been embroiled in civil war for three years, with rebels battling the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The conflict has escalated in recent days, with accusations of chemical weapons use, and on Sunday Israel launched air attacks on the Syrian capital, Damascus.

"Although we can't yet comment on what caused this outage, past incidents were linked to both government-ordered shutdowns and damage to the infrastructure, which included fiber cuts and power outages," Umbrella said.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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