Not-so-great firewall of Libya is switched on

Internet traffic was shut off again on Thursday -- this time using a different technique

As it wages an escalating civil war, Libya has once again cut Internet service in and out of the country.

This latest cutoff happened just before 7 p.m. local time in Libya Thursday evening, according to Internet monitoring firms Renesys and Arbor Networks.

Libya blocked Internet traffic -- and then quickly restored it -- two weeks ago. But this time it's doing things a little differently. In February, Libya took a cue from Egypt and used the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to tell the world's routers to essentially steer clear of Libyan Internet space. Now, the country has erected a firewall around all of its Internet traffic. "They're blocking all the traffic," said Renesys General Manager Earl Zmijewski. "The routes are still up, but there's no traffic flowing. It's as if all the roads are open, but all the cars are blocked."

With international calls getting stronger for President Moammar Gadhafi to step down, this latest move appears to be an attempt to cut the flow of information to and from the north African country.

Withdrawing the BGP routes is akin to hitting an Internet kill switch, making it impossible for any Internet traffic to flow in or out of the country. With this latest firewall technique, Gadhafi's government could selectively allow some computer -- the president's, for example -- to use the Internet.

Zmijewski does not know what, if any, systems have Internet access in Libya.

Besides Egypt, other nations such as Myanmar in 2007 and Nepal in 2005 have taken similar steps to kill Internet access, and China selectively cuts access to certain parts of the Internet using its so-called Great Firewall of China. But with 400 million users -- compared to hundreds of thousands in Libya -- China's firewall is an extremely complicated work of engineering.

Putting up a countrywide firewall is a relatively simple thing for Gadhafi's government because the nation's Internet connections have a single choke point, the state-owned Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT). By simply changing router settings at LTT, the government could put up the firewall countrywide, Zmijewski said.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityinternetgovernmentRenesys

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?