Syria shuts down the Internet

The Internet in Syria went dark Thursday with 100 percent of Syrian networks crashing throughout the day.

Many speculate the Syrian government has shut down the Internet to prevent further advances by the rebels in the civil war raging in the country. The rebels depend on internet connectivity for communication, training and organizing attacks. Shutting it down puts the rebels at a sever disadvantage.

Foreign Policy’s Cyber Apps blog speculated that the Internet blackout could be a precursor to a large scale offensive against the rebels to include a nation wide civilian massacre.

Rafif Jouejati, a U.S. representative for the Local Coordination Committees in Syria told Killer Apps: “This is the MO of the regime before it storms any given area, they cutoff communications, water, power, before they storm and what always happens is a massacre.”

This is not the first attack sustained by the rebels. Government hackers have broke into Syrian rebel basic computers using a fake security  security software, according to Danger Room. Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told Danger Room that the surveillance programs will “take screenshots of target machines, turn on the computer’s microphone or camera, log all your keystrokes — and then send it all back to Damascus.”

The brutal fighting continues between the rebels and the Syrian government. The Assad regime has launched attacks against cities near the Turkish border. Meanwhile, the rebels make advances on towns on the outskirts of Damascus, the Syrian capital.

Shutting down the Internet may signal a new level of desperation from Assad’s regime as they try to slow down the rebels.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • BlackOwl18E

    The Syrian government sends text messages to all in Syria that the war is over and they are winning. The Syrian government then shuts down the internet. Suspicious to the Syrian people? Probably…

    Or it was actually a 13-year old super hacker that got into their system and flipped the off-switch… or it might have been another country that turned it off… the possibilities are endless.

  • JE McKellar

    NPR mentioned that the shutdown happened just after a rebel bragged about shooting down a Syrian aircraft. Thinking back to OIF, maybe a key use of the internet, especially social media, for the rebels was the spotting and tracking of enemy aircraft, and coordinating AA fire. Even with a shoulder-launched SAM, you might only have a brief moment between spotting a low-flying aircraft and getting the shot off, every second of warning would be critical.

    Unless the rebels start running telegraph cable through the streets, Syrian airpower might have a chance at suppressing the rebellion. Either that or pray for more winter rain.

  • Lance

    I find the whole Syria situation is Bull Crap. Its a war where no matter who wins the USA lose if its a Al Qaeda backed new government or a Iranian backed government. I doubt the rebels are on the verge of total victory since the media only reports whats on rebel websites. This could be closing things down so a chemical attack can bargain and no early warning for all rebel force could be send. Yes the rebels shoot a old MiG-21 and a couple Hinds, that is not much a dent in the Syrian Air force.

    Take all this crap Pro Islamic news and web sights say with a grain of salt. 1/2 of it if not most is Crap.

  • Kim

    The interesting bit is the spyware the Syrian government is using to – say – see who’s even critical of the government. The same stuff is used by authoriarian regimes and dictatorships all over the world. And it is kindly (and profitably) supplied by Western companies.

  • Rob

    I can only hope that this outage does not ruin the gains of the rebels.

    Refugees should be polled to which direction thier country should take and then we should do everything in our power to make it happen.

    If the Refugees want it how it was, then open up to their government.

    If they want democracy or Islamic law then declare war on the regime.

    As I see it, their neighbors willingly attack back against any Syrian military misfires and I know that the Qatari governemt back the rebels.

    They are unfreindly to us and sorry, but I’ve lost tolerance to this hate against our country.

    The only issue to overcome is a Russian naval base and Russian backing. What to do there?

    Otherwise, offer the rebels a plan B. If all fails give them safe haven here.

    Thatb being said, I pray this outage is not prelude to a Russian assisted assault.

  • Prodozul

    Syria shutdown its own internet? Quick send in Anonymo-


  • jake

    Cutting off porn is below the belt!

  • david

    This is not our concern. Let their neighbors like Israel and Egypt deal with it. Isn’t that why we give them so many billions every year?

  • William C.

    Interesting strategy. I wonder why Libya or others never tried it?

  • The Syrians will just have to stop playing COD online and go out and fight each other instead.

  • Noha307

    “sever disadvantage” – the perfect typo.

  • Sev

    Let them kill each other. PLEASE don’t help them! Either way they will always hate us so let the slime kill itself off. Besides, Obama only helped Libya for political favor when only 700 were killed. Doesnt give a damn about syria and the thousands killed.

  • galloglas

    “the Internet blackout could be a precursor to a large scale offensive against the rebels to include a nation wide civilian massacre”
    Most likely using poison war gas.
    O K so whats the bad news?

  • richard

    Didn’t Anonymous announce they were going to do this?

  • STemplar

    I agree with the idea it’s the government trying to impede the rebels COM capacity. Most of their AAA kills until just recently have been AAA guns and now they’ve gotten some MANPADs. Even with a shoulder fired IR SAM you have to know what direction to be looking for a plane coming in. Pure desperation on Assad’s part.

  • CyberSecurityChief

    Some countries have the capability to hack into other countries computers and shut down their whole infrastructure it is very possible! It is not as difficult as some people are saying here. The best way you can tell is if it’s shutdown for more than a day or two then it’s probably Syrian government using this tool as a strategy to limit the rebels and outside media from communicating amongst themselves. If it goes back tomorrow then it was probably a cyber attack. Anonymous is not out of the question they actually said they would hit Syria and Israel with cyber attacks within the upcoming days,weeks. But is most likely the Syrian government planning an all out attack against the rebels and it’s people. A massacre will in sue.

  • chris f

    What doesn’t make sense to me is. If the internet is so important to the Syrian rebels and you wrote.
    “The rebels depend on internet connectivity for communication, training and organizing attacks. Shutting it down puts the rebels at a sever disadvantage.
    WHY has it not already been done?

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