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What Libya Learned from Egypt

February 18, 2011 Comments (21) Views: 20921 Politics, Security

Libyan Disconnect

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Final updates on this thread added at the bottom. New analysis here. –jim

Renesys confirms that the 13 globally routed Libyan network prefixes were withdrawn at 23:18 GMT (Friday night, 1:18am Saturday local time), and Libya is off the Internet. One Libyan route originated by Telecom Italia directly is still BGP-reachable, but inbound traceroutes appear to die in Palermo. A minority of our peers report some surviving paths through the peering connection between Level3 and Telecom Italia, but traceroutes into those prefixes fail, suggesting that the Libyan cutoff is complete.

We wondered whether anyone would repeat Egypt’s strategy. Tonight, it appears that we have our answer.

Update 06:39 UTC Saturday 19 Feb 2011

Corrected above report to reflect GMT+2 time zone.

Two-thirds of Libyan routes came back to life at 6:01 UTC (8:01 local time), and the remainder were restored nine minutes later. At the moment, spot checks of Libyan domains and traceroutes into affected networks indicate that connectivity has been restored, and Libya is back on the Internet.

Update 18:10 UTC Monday 21 Feb 2011

Libya has continued to have periods of partial or total unreachability through the weekend. The first night’s Internet blackout was repeated 24 hours later, with all prefixes unreachable from 1am to just after 8am Sunday morning. At the moment, however, the Libyan prefixes are reachable, traceroutes inbound are completing at normal rates, and key commercial and government websites that we spot check are responding normally.

If last night’s “Internet curfew” pattern repeats a third time, we would expect to see Libya leave the Internet again just after 1am local time (23:00 GMT). It’s unclear why rolling Internet blackouts would be strategically worthwhile — they just draw more attention to the government’s inability to control the flow of information. Are there any reports of power problems at the Telecom Libya facilities?

Update 22:00 UTC Tuesday 22 Feb 2011


No repeat of the overnight “Internet curfew.” Libyan routes are up and traceroutes are completing (though at reduced rates of success). Here’s a plot showing the average round-trip delay to Libyan hosts that have responded to traceroute over the last few days. The blue background indicates the count of successful completions.

You can see a few things here. The median time it takes to reach Libyan hosts from all over the world has remained pretty constant, roughly 200ms. Fewer traceroutes are succeeding, suggesting that reachability is impaired, even though the routes are up. The distribution of times has remained relatively stable, without large outliers, perhaps suggesting that the reported reductions in traffic to/from Libya are the result of internal shutdowns, rather than heavy congestion on the international links. Finally, you can see successful traceroute counts drop to zero during the outages.

(c) 2011 Google

Update 21:00 UTC Saturday 26 Feb 2011

Commenters have requested a weekend update on Libya, but sadly there isn’t a lot of new information to share at the infrastructure level. The last outage event of multiple Libyan networks was a few minutes’ blip on Wednesday, affecting only a few networks. It’s been quiet since then.

The Google Transparency Report has good data on the query rate coming from each country on earth. As you can see (click through for latest data), the Libyan Internet appears to be delivering a daily pattern of traffic to Google that is actually increasing, day by day, though down substantially from its levels before the two overnight Internet blackouts.

Update 00:00 UTC Friday 4 Mar 2011

After a quiet week, we received reports tonight that Libyans in Tripoli were suddenly unable to use various Internet communications utilities. Examining the BGP routing table, we saw nothing unusual — all Libyan routes up and stable.

But our traceroutes tell a different story (no responses from Libyan hosts). All of the Libyan-hosted government websites we tested (i.e., the ones that are actually hosted in Libya, and not elsewhere) were unreachable.

Google’s Transparency Report seems to confirm that their Libyan query traffic has fallen to zero as well (click for latest):

The Youtube plot is interesting, suggesting that Google’s Youtube traffic from Libya has grown steadily all week. Tonight, however, we suspect that someone has turned off the tap on the Libyan Internet again, this time leaving the routes in place.



Image credits: Google Transparency Report


Update 04:00 UTC Friday 4 Mar 2011


Our last successful traceroute into Libya was shortly after 16:35 UTC. So it looks like this is more than a blip — radio silence for 12 hours and counting.

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21 Responses to Libyan Disconnect

  1. says:

    This post has been featured

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  2. Samat K Jain says:

    Libya disconnects from Internet. Waiting for all the Web 2.0 fools with .ly domains to fall of the face of the earth

    […] Libya disconnects from Internet. Waiting for all the Web 2.0 fools with .ly domains to fall of the face of the earth […]

  3. Libyan says:

    The internet still cut off the eastern side of Libya

  4. WolfgangF says:

    no internet in whole Benghazi area

  5. va says:

    is the Internet inside Libya working for local connections? Or once they shut it down, they shut down external connection to the outside world as well as internally?

  6. Auch Libyen wurde vom Internet getrennt

    Die Proteste in den arabischen Ländern setzen sich weiter fort. Nun versuchte auch die Regierung in Libyen, den Internetzugang zu blockieren….

  7. Mendel says:

    Did they shut it down to place DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) equipment to censor Lybian people? Did they shut it down multiple routes from different providers for no reason?

  8. Ben says:

    How about make a large Wifi network inside Lybia

  9. Tahani says:

    James, can you confirm whether or not there has been an internet and mobile phone blackout in Libya today (21/02/2011). We cant reach the people in Libya. Thanks

  10. CARMEN says:

    Can you confirm is theres not internet and mobile black out in Libya today 2/21/2011. Because i cant reach a person in there. Thanks

  11. Jeremy Robbins says:

    From a technical view: it would seem to me that the cuts should be made with software and re routes rather than electrical cuts. I don’t agree with cutting at all, but it would seem that re routes would more effective as packets would just die and never reach the intended destination.
    From a moral view: they just seem to be complete fools, I wonder if the internet coming back on line is the internet providers just turning it back on in revolt.

  12. erin thune says:

    why protest?When you can work out the problem.

  13. louboutin says:

    Hi! I discovered your blog site on google and check a few of your early posts. Continue to keep up the very good operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking forward to reading more from you later on!…louboutin

  14. Helper says:

    Does anyone know what is happening today on the Libya Internet please? I am trying to reach friends but cannot ! :(

  15. Walid Shaari says:

    Can you update us on the Libya situation, we see anomalies today

  16. I am very sad for this people.Now not even VPN Service can not help them.War is planned long time before they even now.

  17. Again, thanks for the wonderful reporting. This level of detail and technical expertise informs my understanding of the on-the-ground situation. Which appears to be schizophrenic at best.

  18. jbrollie says:

    is the internet and or cell phones back up and running in libya?

  19. It is a painful situation in Libya that innocent people are being tatgeted. Similar latest update is also seen on following link. Please go through it.

  20. Its a old post, anyone have informations about the Situation today ? Internet is running, Cellphones can be used ?

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