Online collective Anonymous has attacked Syrian embassy websites in response to the government's shut down of internet access within the country.
Anonymous has begun attacking official Syrian websites hosted outside of the country following the Syrian government's decision to cut the internet connection to the rest of the world.
The Syrian government denies it was behind the internet blackout, with the Syrian minister for information blaming terrorists
"It is not true that the state cut the Internet. The terrorists targeted the Internet lines, resulting in some regions being cut off," he was quoted by Syrian state-run TV as saying.
However, internet monitoring service CloudFlare has explained how this is simply not the case. Syria has four physical cables that connect it to the rest of the Internet. Three are undersea cables that land in the city of Tartous, Syria.
The fourth is an over-land cable through Turkey. In order for a whole-country outage, all four of these cables would have had to been cut simultaneously. "That is unlikely to have happened," Cloud
Flare said in a statement.
The exclusive provider of Internet access in Syria is the state-run Syrian Telecommunications Establishment with four main network providers normally providing connectivity from Syria to the rest of the internet.
"When the outage happened, the BGP routes to Syrian IP space were all simultaneously withdrawn from all of Syria's upstream providers. The effect of this is that networks were unable to route traffic to Syrian IP space, effectively cutting the country off the Internet," CloudFlare said.
One of the company's network engineers monitoring the situation recorded a video (below) of network routes being withdrawn.
In response to the outage, Anonymous issued a warning to all official Syrian websites hosted outside the country. Earlier today, Anonymous mounted a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the Chinese embassy website, though it appears to now be back online.
Anonymous says it has been working with Syrian activists for over a year and it has produced and disseminated a Syrian Care Package. This includes first-aid information as well as details on how to access dial-up internet connections.
The blackout in Syria is the latest in a string of similar moves by regimes in the region, with the Egyptian government of Honsi Mubarak cutting that country's internet connection with the rest of the world in January 2011.
However, as was shown in Egypt, and Tunisia before that, cutting the internet access to the outside world has not prevented governments from being overthrown.
The blackout in Syria comes as activists have garnered a lot of support for the uprising by posting videos on YouTube of atrocities purportedly carried out by pro-Assad groups. Twitter and Facebook have also been powerful tools in disseminating information to the wider world.