Syria’s Internet Blackout Puts Pressure on Web Hosts

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – As internet downtime continues to persist for Syria, a number of hosting providers are making sure they’re properly distanced from the country.

A New York Times report on Thursday detailed Syrian government websites hosted in North American locations, noting accessibility to the web presences was still available in areas outside the region despite the blackout. Hosting companies including HostDime, SoftLayer and Jumpline have all hosted Syrian government-sponsored websites.

The consideration of cutting ties to the websites follows the scrutiny of a U.S.-backed law, requiring companies to receive U.S. Treasury approval before doing business with Syria. These all fall under sanction requirements.

It’s important to emphasize, however, that many web hosts aren’t fully knowledgeable of exactly what content their customers host through rented out servers. The hosts have all stressed they’re addressing the issues.

Just some of the online presences hosted by the American hosts included websites for the country’s Ministry of Religious Affairs and one for a government news agency.

Renesys, a security company, reported on the blackout Thursday, noting all of Syria’s IP blocks were down.

“This most recent Internet disruption in Syria highlights the issue of Web hosting and how the regime is able to make use of servers outside Syria to promote its message while locally hosted sites are down,” stated Helmi Noman, a senior researcher with Citizen Lab, according to the New York Times.

The blackout arrives at a time when the administration of Syrian President Bashar al Assad faces challenges from rebel fighters.