Monday, February 25, 2008

YouTube outage blamed on Pakistan

"The BBC News website's technology editor, Darren Waters" believes Pakistan Telecom and a service provider called PCCW "hijacked" the Youtube address to keep viewers from watching un-Muslim material. This resulted in a Youtube interruption which lasted several hours.

"Traffic to YouTube was routed according to erroneous internet protocols, and many users around the world could not access our site," [the BBC] said. Those details were then passed on to the country's internet service providers so that anyone in Pakistan attempting to go to YouTube was instead re-directed to a different address.

PCCW stopped messing around with the routing after being told off by engineers at YouTube.

IP hijacking involves taking over a web site's unique address by corrupting the internet's routing tables, which direct the flow of data around the world. Reports said Pakistan made the move because YouTube content included Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that have outraged many.

But one report said a trailer for a forthcoming film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, which portrays Islam in a negative light, was behind the ban. ...

A leading net professional told BBC News: "This was probably a simple mistake by an engineer at Pakistan Telecom. There's nothing to suggest this was malicious."


Blogger NahnCee said...

"This was probably a simple mistake by an engineer at Pakistan Telecom. There's nothing to suggest this was malicious."

Well of course not. Don't be ridiculous!

And when the underwater cables tht feed the internet to Pakistan and the rest of the Middle East get cut, THAT is not malicious either.

2/25/2008 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Brock said...

Not being an engineer, I hadn't realized how easy it was to take down an address space. I think we've just seen the unwitting use of what in the future may be a weapon of war.

Not to pick on China as the goblin du jour, but PCCW is a Hong Kong ISP under Chinese control. They could probably mess with the US economy something fierce by messing with the internet is ways I'm not equipped to imagine. I don't think the military would be effected so easily, but guns aren't often a good solution to 404 errors. What kinds of instruments would be at our disposal to deal with such a threat?

Is there a meaningful MAD strategy here? Most core routers are in the USA.

2/25/2008 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Joel H said...

According to this article:

Why the Chinese Internet seems slow: "Partly it is because even electrons take a detectable period of time to travel beneath the Pacific Ocean to servers in America and back again; the trip to and from Europe is even longer, because that goes through America, too."

Where the undersea cables are:
"Even now, virtually all Internet contact between China and the rest of the world is routed through a very small number of fiber-optic cables that enter the country at one of three points: the Beijing-Qingdao-Tianjin area in the north, where cables come in from Japan; Shanghai on the central coast, where they also come from Japan; and Guangzhou in the south, where they come from Hong Kong. (A few places in China have Internet service via satellite, but that is both expensive and slow. Other lines run across Central Asia to Russia but carry little traffic.)"

I don't know about Pakistan though.

2/25/2008 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger newscaper said...

Point of reference:

A few years ago I helped a friend I worked with set up a simple website for his sideline business.

He made the mistake of picking a really budget web hosting company with which to park his site and domain name.

A few days after it went live he ran into my office in a panic -- you typed in his URL and you got German kiddie porn. Neither his a web pages themselves nor his folders were hacked. Instead, the webhost's DNS server was hacked, so his domain name pointed to an entirely different site instead.
It was fixed the same day, but then the EXACT same thing happened a couple days later -- the company corrected the DNS entries but didn't plug the security hole that allowed them to be changed in the first place.
Most people are unaware of this more indirect form of hijacking a site.

2/25/2008 11:52:00 AM  

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