The Modern Dark Ages?

Published: 2011-01-30
Last Updated: 2011-01-30 17:54:52 UTC
by Richard Porter (Version: 1)
20 comment(s)

The Internet, mobile phone, cellular data connections and other communications devices have enabled modern society for near real time communications. With the addition of social media (e.g Twitter, Facebook) inter connectivity between people is improved greatly.

The choice of the Egyptian government to cut off communications brings about a thought on risks of global travel. Why the authorities of Egypt cut off communications is out of scope here but impact is not. Some of us handlers travel a great deal throughout the year and have been in Egypt.

There have been reports from several sources that mobile phone services have been partially restored but repeating Mark's check with dnstracer, Internet still seems to be down.

Tracing to[a]
 |___ [] ( * * *
 |___ RIP.PSG.COM [] (
 |     |___ NS2.TEDATA.NET [] (No IP address)
 |      ___ NS1.TEDATA.NET [] (No IP address)
 |___ RIP.PSG.COM [] 

Due to over 150,000 Miles of travel a year, I asked myself "What is my personal disaster recovery plan in the case of communication's outage" and found that I had none. In dialog with the other handlers it was apparent that we rely upon global connectivity and an outage like Egypt would leave most of us digitally stranded.

In my travel kit there was not even a backup analog modem let alone any satellite options. After some research there are several possible products but this diary serves as a question to the ISC Community, what would you carry, if anything, to mitigate this real risk?

As Mark stated a couple days ago, please keep comments apolitical.

Richard Porter

--- ISC Handler on Duty

Keywords: Egypt internet outage
20 comment(s)


That's why I keep my ham license. It's not 100% reliable but with the internet down in a large area, generally with HF/VHF you can work around it. There are tools to send email over radio like Airmail, Paclink and RMSExpress. BTW no more code on the tests.
Basically Ham License on HF and Satphone are all you've got. In the upcoming decade, situational and political awareness will be really necessary if you travel.
I normally carry a modem and when needed use dial-up / VPN back to my modem in the home attached to the internet.

Ham radio - free on-line practice tests. Maybe a Spot/ Spot2 Messenger.
Thuraya, Inmarsat BGAN, Iridium
Unless it is a matter of life and death (and I suppose it could be argued that the situation in Egypt qualifies) I tend to agree with the sentiment expressed by handler Ed Skoudis a few years back when he said "I'm looking forward to an Internet Snow Day. I could use the rest!"
I think it really depends on how big of a budget and how much space you realistically have, but I would go with ham radio license or Iridium phone depending on those factors.
One thing about ham radio is the laws are not the same in all countries. Frequency bands that we have available in the US may not be available somewhere else. Also, an amateur radio license is only valid in the country in which it is issued. I believe amateur radio transmissions are actually forbidden in some countries and can land someone in real trouble if caught transmitting without approval and merely possessing the equipment may be a crime. There are lots of reciprocal agreements but people should be very aware of possible issues if they carry radio gear into other countries and operate it.
Especially during times of unrest.
I was discussing the Egypt scenario with some friends last week and over the weekend; we were figuring out how communications could be restored in such a scenario. Then, this morning, I see an article calling out the <a href="">Serval Project</a>, which is pretty close to what we had been envisioning--using cellphones in a mesh-based network. Doesn't look like they've shipped any code yet, sadly, but according to their blog, they're in active development.

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