Internet cut off: Syria. Photo: AFP
Syria's internet access to the outside world has been cut off, making email, websites and other services inaccessible across much of the country, Google and other web companies say.
Google's web services were inaccessible, according to the search provider's transparency report, which tracks the status of products available to users around the world. The report showed a dropoff in internet traffic in Syria just before 5am AEST on Wednesday.
Other companies reported interruptions in Syria. Umbrella Security Labs, part of web traffic-services provider OpenDNS, also reported a "significant drop in traffic". CloudFlare, an internet company, was experiencing disruptions in Syria as well, according to chief executive Matthew Prince. The outage may be the most extensive since Syria's internet went dark for two days in late November, he said.
"This is the same sort of outage, and it appears to have been accomplished in the same ways, as the outage from several months ago," Prince said. "The internet may still work while you're inside Syria, but if you're outside of the country there is no way to send network traffic into the country."
Bakr Bakr, director general of the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment, a government-related company, blamed the web outage on a malfunction in a fibre-optic cable, according to a report by the Middle East News Agency. Maintenance teams were working to restore access, Bakr was cited as saying.
The reason for the disruption wasn't immediately clear and could be due to a government-ordered shutdown of the internet, according to Dan Hubbard, chief technology officer at Umbrella Security Labs and OpenDNS. Damage to infrastructure or cyber attack also are possibilities, though unlikely, he said. Internet services are provided in Syria through the state-owned telecommunications company, Hubbard said.
"Citizens of Syria have been cut off from internet communication channels," Hubbard said. "Anyone that has infrastructure or servers that are hosted there, or potentially hosted by the .sy server domain, would be offline."
The disruption is similar to one that began on November 29 and lasted for two days, Hubbard said. Many companies that depended on the .sy server domain during the last outage have since changed their services, he said.
The US and Russia will press the Syrian government and opposition leaders to participate in talks as soon as possible to end two years of civil war in the country, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday.