[ISN] Iraq still online

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Mar 24 2003 - 00:41:48 PST

  • Next message: InfoSec News: "[ISN] Information warfare in the war on Iraq"

    Forwarded from: William Knowles <wkat_private>
    By Brian McWilliams
    March 21, 2003  
    Since the U.S. military moved into the "shock and awe" phase of its 
    campaign early Friday, Web surfers have encountered intermittent 
    problems reaching Uruklink.net, the Iraq government's main Web site. 
    But those access difficulties are apparently due to a surge of 
    Internet visitors, along with some untimely technical changes, rather 
    than to damage from the bombing or a government shutdown. 
    In fact, on Thursday, following the start of the U.S.-led attack, 
    traffic to Uruklink.net hit a record. According to a counter at the 
    site's home page, over 14,200 people visited March 20, making it the 
    busiest day at the site since the counter was installed in December. 
    Traffic Friday was down somewhat and will likely tally around 8,000 
    visits -- still well above the daily average of 4,000. 
    Uruklink.net currently displays a computer-generated date of March 21, 
    2003. Atop the home page are prominent links to streaming video 
    versions of last month's interview between Hussein and CBS News anchor 
    Dan Rather. 
    Similarly, the home page of Iraq's BabilOnline newspaper, operated by 
    Saddam Hussein's son Uday, set a traffic record Thursday. A counter on 
    the site's home page racked up over 1,000 visits, twice its average. 
    The heavy shelling of Baghdad has apparently not yet affected Iraq's 
    primary e-mail servers, mail.uruklink.net and mail.warkaa.net. Both 
    systems were still responding to network queries late Friday EST. The 
    Web site of Iraq's Satellite TV channel was also still online. 
    For reasons not apparent, the administrators of Iraq's network changed 
    the Internet protocol (IP) address of Uruklink.net and a couple of the 
    country's other primary Web sites on Thursday. 
    Meanwhile, one of Iraq's domain name servers -- the systems that route 
    traffic to the appropriate destination -- appears to be offline. As a 
    result, the Iraqi sites' ability to handle the increased traffic is 
    As Salon reported earlier this month, Internet traffic to and from 
    Iraq's Web sites and e-mail systems is carried primarily by satellite 
    links provided by Atlanta International Teleport of Georgia and 
    Satellite Media Services of England. 
    So why hasn't the U.S. given the signal to those firms to cut Iraq off 
    from the Internet -- or to its missile operators to strike Baghdad 
    network centers? 
    The Bush administration has stated that the U.S. is not at war with 
    Iraq's citizens, and that the military campaign currently in full 
    swing is designed to remove weapons of mass destruction -- not to 
    mention Saddam Hussein -- from Iraq. Knocking out Internet access for 
    average Iraqis would seem to contradict those goals. 
    Thus, the Web site of the Iraqi Center for Heart Diseases, for 
    example, is still accessible today, even as U.S. jets fly hundreds of 
    bombing sorties over the country. 
    Given the relatively crude state of Iraq's Internet resources, the 
    U.S. military may also have determined that Iraq's telephone and fiber 
    optic networks, rather than its Internet links, are the Iraqi 
    government's primary means of communication. 
    While far-fetched, it's possible the U.S. is also leaving Iraq's 
    e-mail systems intact to provide a conduit for communication with 
    Iraqi military and government leaders willing to turn on Saddam 
    In January, U.S. officials acknowledged sending e-mails to Iraqi 
    officials as part of their prewar "psychological operations." The 
    e-mails reportedly advised Iraqis not to use chemical or biological 
    It's not immediately clear, however, whether Iraqis have been able to 
    easily access the Internet since the initial attacks. 
    Repeated checks of the abbreviated log files for Uruklink.net and 
    BabilOnline.net reveal only a few hits from users of SMS and AIT, the 
    two satellite ISPs that supply Iraq. 
    It's possible that Iraq's government has imposed some sort of block on 
    Internet use, such as closing its public Internet centers. Or perhaps 
    Iraqis have more important things on their minds, such as the B52 
    bombers reportedly on their way from the United Kingdom. 
    Brian McWilliams is a freelance business and technology reporter based
    in Durham, NH.
    "Communications without intelligence is noise;  Intelligence
    without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
    C4I.org - Computer Security, & Intelligence - http://www.c4i.org
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