Monday, January 31, 2011

UPDATE: Noor Networks The Last Egyptian ISP Online Has Been Shut Down

"2226 GMT: The government has cut off the last Egyptian ISP providing internet to citizens - Noor. With Noor's disconnection which follows the disconnection of all the other ISPs in the country, Egypt becomes the first country to be completely shut off from the rest the web by its regime in the history of internet."

"2145 GMT: Multiple sources are reporting that Egyptian authorities have closed the last Internet "window", Noor Online, in Egypt.

Noor was kept open during the shutdown of Web services on Friday, possibly because the provider was used by vital financial and corporate interests, including the Egyptian Stock Market."

Egypt (and Beyond) LiveBlog: So What is an "Orderly Transition"?

How The Egyptian Regime Cut Off Internet Access


Picture Credit: TechWorld - Egypt cut off from Internet as government cracks down on protest

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"The Egyptian government has been able to cut off most of the country's internet access simply by shutting down the various DNS servers used by Egyptian internet service providers. As such, any requests for web pages initiated from inside Egypt have been unsuccessful since there aren't any available DNS servers to facilitate the hand-offs, and any requests for websites located inside Egypt coming from computers anywhere else in the world haven't worked either.

While this has affected most of Egypt's internet traffic, some people are able to work around the issue by manually using DNS servers that haven't been taken offline—similar to the method I used when Comcast's DNS server went down. BGPmon.com is reporting that 88% of Egypt's internet traffic has been knocked offline, which seems to indicate that 12% of those who are still able to access the internet there are either using alternative DNS servers or haven't had their DNS servers taken offline yet (apparently some dial-up internet connections are still able to get through, for instance)."

"While images of a big red button housed inside a Plexiglass case that can only be unlocked by two simultaneous key twists of top government officials seem to fit the idea of how such an internet kill switch would work, the reality is far more mundane. In Egypt's case, the internet service providers that operate within the country agree to let the government shut down the commonly-used DNS servers if they see fit to do so.

The BBC reports that one of Egypt's big internet service providers, Vodafone, issued an e-mail statement simply stating that the company was instructed to shut down its DNS servers. "Under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such and order and we are obliged to comply with it," said the statement.

The same order was almost certainly issued to all the other internet service providers operating inside Egypt and, just like that, the internet went down."

Time Online (Techland) - How Egypt Cut Off the Internet (and How a U.S. 'Kill Switch' Might Work)

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"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.""

"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.""

guardian.co.uk - Egypt cuts off internet access
Most of the major internet service providers in Egypt are offline following week-long protests


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"Our new observation is that this was not an instantaneous event on the front end; each service provider approached the task of shutting down its part of the Egyptian Internet separately.

* Telecom Egypt (AS8452), the national incumbent, starts the process at 22:12:43.
* Raya joins in a minute later, at 22:13:26.
* Link Egypt (AS24863) begins taking themselves down 4 minutes later, at 22:17:10.
* Etisalat Misr (AS32992) goes two minutes later, at 22:19:02
* Internet Egypt (AS5536) goes six minutes later, at 22:25:10.

First impressions: this sequencing looks like people getting phone calls, one at a time, telling them to take themselves off the air. Not an automated system that takes all providers down at once; instead, the incumbent leads and other providers follow meekly one by one until Egypt is silenced."

Renesys - Egypt Leaves the Internet

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"The cut-off happened just after midnight, local time, according to Internet monitoring firm Renesys, when the largest Internet Service Providers operating out of the country stopped providing the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing information used to connect the rest of the world with computers in the Egypt."

"Similar widespread outages have been blamed on cuts to undersea fibre optic cables, but that doesn't seem to be what happened this time around, said Paul Ferguson, a researcher with security firm Trend Micro. An outage on a cable would not just effect Egypt, it would cut off all of sub-Saharan Africa." he said. "This is apparently a deliberate blackout.""

"But Egypt's Internet isolation is not complete. One service provider, Noor Data Networks, the provider used by the Egyptian Stock Exchange, is unaffected."
TechWorld - Egypt cut off from Internet as government cracks down on protest

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Phone Menu Hell Re-created For Phone Company In TV Prank (Very Funny Video)

"Belgium's much-reviled phone company Mobistar was elaborately pranked by a program on VRT Belgium; the pranksters hid themselves in a steel container, which they had dropped directly in front of the gates of a large Mobistar office at 5AM. The container had a prominent customer service number printed on the side of it -- a number which rang the pranksters inside the container -- that was promptly called by a series of Mobistar employees who wanted to get the container moved off before 2,000 Mobistar employees reported for work and found the parking lot blocked off.

The pranksters proceed to put the Mobistar employees through a high-art comedic phone hell, disconnecting them, subjecting them to terrible hold music (performed live from within the container on a little synthesizer), gradually ratcheting the misery up in a Dante-worthy re-enactment of every terrible, awful mobile phone company experience.

The program was a huge hit in Belgium (be sure to watch it all the way through for the a killer punchline), and has been captioned in English for those of us in the anglosphere to enjoy."

"Elaborate televised prank on Belgium's terrible phone company"

This post stolen in entirety from BoingBoing - give them a click through for the advertising revenue, please - and more importantly - go there to watch the video

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Video Cameras Proposed For Wyoming Classrooms To FIlm Teachers For "Evaluation" Purposes

Big Brother at Wyoming schools? Legislature considers filming teachers.

Wyoming lawmakers propose installing video cameras to help evaluate teachers' performance. But educators are concerned about privacy issues, among other things."

"Teachers in Wyoming might someday have to add an extra step to their lesson plans: Smile for the camera.

State lawmakers have proposed installing video cameras and taping lessons to help evaluate teachers’ performance.

The occasional videotaped class has long been a tool for training and self-reflection. But the notion of tying recorded lessons to high-stakes evaluations raises a host of thorny issues.

Schools would have to consider who would be evaluating the taped lessons, what criteria they’d use, and how student and teacher privacy would be respected."


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A camera in every classroom, a camera in every cubicle, what more could we ask for?

In our surveillance society.

How long until those cameras are used to harass staff? Harass students? Or whatever else?

Remember my post on what happened with those remotely activated webcams on student computers?

Read it again:

School District Remotely Activated Webcams On Students Computers While They Were At Home; Some Partially Dressed; Lawsuit Settled For $610K