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These Are The 61 Countries Most Vulnerable To An Internet Shutdown

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- 1868 days ago -
For 52 hours last week, Syria joined the unfortunate club of countries whose governments have chosen, however briefly, to return their citizens to the digital dark ages.

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j A (282)
Monday December 10, 2012, 1:40 pm

12/03/2012 @ 9:35AM |34,665 views
These Are The 61 Countries Most Vulnerable To An Internet Shutdown
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Renesys' map of Internet shutdown risk by country.

For 52 hours last week, Syria joined the unfortunate club of countries whose governments have chosen, however briefly, to return their citizens to the digital dark ages. That club, which also includes Egypt and Myanmar, remains small for now. But if you live in any of these five dozen countries, it could happen to you, too.

In the wake of Syria’s digital blackout last week, the networking firm Renesys performed an analysis of which countries are most susceptible to an Internet shutdown, based simply on how many distinct entities control the connections between the country’s networks and those of the outside world. It found that for 61 countries and territories, just one or two Internet service providers maintain all external connections–a situation that could make possible a quick cutoff from the world with a well-placed government order or physical attack.

On Monday, Renesys published its full list of countries and territories at various levels of Internet shutdown risk. And here are the places it put in the “severe risk” category.

Andorra, Anguilla, Netherland Antilles, Aruba, Åland Islands, Barbados, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Bhutan, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Cook Islands, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Grenada, French Guiana, Greenland, Gambia, Guinea, Guadeloupe, Guyana, British Indian Ocean Territory, Jersey, Comoros, Saint Kitts And Nevis, North Korea, Lesotho, Libya, Monaco, Saint Martin (French and Dutch parts), Marshall Islands, Mali, Myanmar, Mauritania, Norfolk Island, Nauru, French Polynesia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Palau, Réunion, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Suriname, South Sudan, Sao Tome and Principe, Syria, Swaziland, Turks and Caicos, Chad, Tokelau, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Tunisia, Tonga, Uzbekistan, Vatican City, Wallis and Futuna, and Yemen.

Anonymous Hackers Swat At Syrian Government Websites In Reprisal For Internet Blackout Andy Greenberg Andy Greenberg Forbes Staff

In Syria, for instance, the state-controlled service provider known as the Syrian Telecom Establishment alone controls access to the foreign Internet, a fact that made its digital shutdown in the midst of the armed conflict there relatively simple. Though the Syrian government claimed that the outage was the result of a “terrorist attack,” an analysis by the networking firm Cloudflare last week showed that connections to the country disappeared within a four-minute span, an indication of a coordinated cutoff rather than a physical attack.

Many of the countries and territories on Renesys’ “severe risk” list, unlike Syria, don’t show political signs of trying to censor or disengage from the Internet–only the physical possibility. And they’re not the only countries where it would be possible: Another 72 countries have between three and ten service providers connecting them to the outside world, according to Renesys, putting them in “significant risk” of an Internet shutdown.

Egypt, for example, had seven active Internet service providers when it was pulled off the Internet during the Arab Spring revolution there in 2011. That setup made it slightly more difficult for Hosni Mubarak’s government to pull the plug, says Renesys analyst Jim Cowie, and led to one Egyptian ISP known as Noor taking several days longer than the others to shut down.

On the flip side, some countries that might seem at risk of a shutdown for political reasons are protected by a more balkanized Internet infrastructure, Cowie argues. Afghanistan, for instance, splits its Internet with ten different providers at its borders with Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere. “It’s really out of the hands of Kabul to turn it off,” says Cowie.

As for the United States, it may be comforting to learn that despite long-running fears of an “Internet kill-switch,” the task of shutting off America’s external network connections would be extremely hairy: According to Renesys, the U.S. is one of 32 countries that has more than 40 Internet providers at its borders. “In the U.S. it almost doesn’t matter how much political will you had or how many facilities you blew up,” says Cowie. “You couldn’t shut the whole thing down.”

See Renesys’s full list of countries’ risk for Internet shutdown, organized by ISO codes, on the company’s blog.

j A (282)
Monday December 10, 2012, 3:17 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Michael because you have done so within the last week.

Kit B (276)
Monday December 10, 2012, 5:21 pm

I realize that Comcast and others would argue the point, but Internet freedom is based on heavy competition for the market place. The Internet of Syria for example, was based on one firm controlling access and in many countries that is all that is needed for a government to shut it down. Internet Freedom is Freedom of Speech.

j A (282)
Monday December 10, 2012, 6:09 pm
So true Kit! You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.

Roger G (154)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 1:44 pm
noted, thanks !

j A (282)
Tuesday December 11, 2012, 2:20 pm
You are welcome Roger!

pam w (139)
Wednesday December 12, 2012, 12:35 pm
Interesting to consider the influence of religion in this issue.

Gvapo T (22)
Thursday December 13, 2012, 7:50 am
low risk country :P
not bad
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