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ISP mistake cuts off YouTube, Pakistan from the internet

The world was cut off from YouTube and Pakistan was cut off from the world, due to a series of mistakes in handling Pakistan’s decree to block the popular video-sharing site.

It all started on Sunday, when Pakistani officials announced that the country will begin censoring YouTube, citing videos considered blasphemous to the country’s Islamic values.

According to Information Week, Pakistan’s ISPs were given immediate orders to block the popular video-sharing site. One such ISP, PieNet, blocked YouTube in such a way that requests to the site were routed to a webpage that they saw fit. Trouble set in afterwards, when the block was propagated to Hong Kong-based telecom provider PCCW. Technical errors caused PCCW’s changes to propagate throughout the entire world, sending the world’s YouTube requests to PieNet’s block page.

Details of what happened next are unclear, but it appears PCCW spotted the error and saw fit to cut off Pakistan’s internet access until it resolved the issue.

“The leadership of Pakistan just created a massive Denial of Service [attack] on their own country,” wrote blogger Richard Stiennon in ZDNet’s Threat Chaos.

According to YouTube parent Google, problems lasted for “about two hours.”

“Traffic to YouTube was routed according to erroneous internet protocols, and many users around the world could not access our site,” said Google in a statement, noting that it is “working with others in the internet community to prevent this from happening again.”

Speaking with the BBC, an unnamed networking expert thinks the blackout was “probably a simple mistake made by an engineer … there’s nothing to suggest this was malicious.”





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