Tag Archives: kill

The Internet Kill Switch–Strom

The senator got his wish for a simple on/off switch for the Internet, but it didn’t go down quite as he had planned when he first proposed the idea before Congress last year. Early last Friday just after midnight local time, the Egyptian telecoms authority turned off almost all Internet and cell phone access to its 80 million residents. What is astounding is how easy and effective this action seemed to be. While no one directly involved is actually talking, savvy folks have figured out it was a series of phone calls to the network operations staffs of the service providers involved. Egypt is served by only a few Internet providers and cell carriers. Within a few minutes, the entire country went offline. SInce then, some cell service has been restored.

Read the entire article and other interesting tech ruminations from David Strom at strominator.com:
The Internet Kill Switch

Another article, much more technical, at ars technica: 
How Egypt did (and your government could) shut down the Internet   By Iljitsch van Beijnum

Similarly, this BBC article has a statement from Vodafone:
Egypt severs internet connection amid growing unrest

A statement issued by Vodafone Egypt said it had been instructed to suspend services in some areas.

“Under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply with it,” it said. 

The Lieberman reference above is explained in this PCMag article:
Egypt Flips Internet Kill Switch. Will the U.S.?

No, the thing that surprises me is that the U.S. government has plans for its own Internet Kill Switch.

The legislation was first introduced last summer by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), and the former has promised to bring it to the floor again in 2011. It isn’t called anything as obvious as the Internet Kill Switch, of course. It is called the “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act.” Who could be against that? Anyone who’s watching the news on TV today, that’s who.

The proposal calls for the Department of Homeland Security to establish and maintain a list of systems or assets that constitute critical cyber-infrastructure. The President would be able to be able to control those systems. He or she would have ability to turn them off. The kicker: none of this would be subject to judicial review. This is just a proposal, mind you, but it  


What makes this noteworthy is that there are dozens of countries that try to control their net access with a series of firewalls and content filters, most notably Iran and China. These countries allow most Internet traffic through. Egypt has been wide open …

But there is very little traffic coming in or out of the country, according to Renasys, which tracks this kind of thing and the source of the graphic above. So the first step towards total control ironically is…

There are some countries that use more than just an off switch for their blockades: …

Finally, what also helped Egypt’s ability to turn off its Internet is  …

I hope this column becomes quickly obsolete and access is turned on in Egypt. But in the meantime, they have provided a roadmap that others should take heed.