Tag Archives: Africa

If You Can’t Kill the Internet by DDoS, Try An Axe

It’s said to be more than 500 ways to kill a cat. How many ways there is to kill the Internet is yet to be determined, but some people seems very keen to find out:  Reuters reports, Thursday, that the Egyptian coastguard have intercepted a fishing boat off the coast of Alexandria and arrested three men in the act of trying to cut through the SEA-ME-WE 4 undersea cable. The cable is one of the main Internet connections between Asia and Europe, transporting 1,28 terabytes of data.

“Multiple sub sea cable cuts have been confirmed off the northern coast of Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea, which are impacting a number of cable systems in AfricaMiddle East and Asia connecting to Europe,”

Seacom

AxeISP

The Internet does not live in anything resembling a cloud (yet). Instead it resides in hundreds of cables snaking underground and along the bottom of the sea, where it is susceptible to ship anchors, marine life, and sabotage. That’s exactly the kind of attack that seems to be underway. The past week we have seen reports of several severed cables off the coast of Egypt.

According to Reuters, the Egyptian coastguard intercepted a fishing boat off the coast of Alexandria and arrested three men trying to cut through the SEA-ME-WE 4 undersea cable, yesterday. The cable is one of the main connections between Asia and Europe, running from France to Malaysia and linking Italy, north Africa, the middle east and south Asia.

The men are at the moment being interrogated by Egyptian authorities. Their identities are still unknown.

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The Egyptian navy have  uploaded their pictures on Facebook, so if you recognize any of them, please notify the authorities via this link.

Over the past week there has been several reports of severed cables off near the coast of Egypt that are part of Seacom, a network of cables serving much of Africa.

Seacom officials have up to now suspected careless ships. But the arrest of the three men yesterday suggests there could a concerted effort to take down Egypt’s connectivity.

sea-me-we-4-route

A similar spate of cuts affected the region in 2008, though no culprit was officially established.

Most big countries have several redundant cables landing on their shores. But the loss of even a single one means that all the traffic must be jammed through remaining connections, causing congestion. And there is nothing to stop determined attackers from targeting several cables.

webaxeMany cables go through geographic chokepoints like the Suez, and it wouldn’t be difficult to disrupt a whole bunch of connections for a period of time.

Yesterday’s attacks on the Internet’s infrastructure – the Cyberbunker attack and the Egyptian cable cutters – show two ways of waging asymmetric war in the Internet era.

If your aim is a single company, it helps to know how to wrangle thousands of zombie computers into a precise, targeted attack. That also has the benefit of allowing regular users—and the attackers themselves—to stay online.

But if your target is bigger, say a country or a continent, all it takes to cripple the network is scuba gear and a few sharp-edged tools, qz.com writes.

In other words: If you see someone lurking around with a snorkel and an axe – call the police !

Flaz-CrazyAxeMurder_Blood-LR

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YARA International To Investigate Libyan Relations

Yara International ASA has decided to initiate an external investigation related to the establishment and follow-up of Yara’s interest in Libyan Norwegian Fertilizer Company, Lifeco, the world’s largest  fertilizer company says in a statement.

“Yara is not aware of any so-called “red-flags” for potential breach of ethical guidelines related to other JVs.”

Yara International ASA

Yara has notified The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (ØKOKRIM) of the possibility that criminal offenses may have occurred before October 2008 in connection with the negotiations preceding the company’s investment in Libya.

According to the short statement from Yara International ASA Wednesday evening, the investigation will also be mandated to look at potential integrity issues related to other Joint Ventures – not only in Libya, it seems like.

But for the moment the company – being the largest fertilizer producer in the world – Yara International ASA has decided to focus on the external investigation related to the establishment and follow-up of Yara’s interest in Libyan Norwegian Fertilizer Company (Lifeco).

“Yara is not aware of any so-called “red-flags” for potential breach of ethical guidelines related to other JVs,” the statement says.

Lifeco was established in February 2009 with a 50% Yara ownership, 25% National Oil Company ownership and 25% Libyan Investment Authority ownership.

The company owns and operates ammonia and urea plants in Marsa El Brega, Libya, with a combined annual capacity of 900,000 tons urea and 150,000 tons merchant ammonia.

“The production was temporary closed down second half of February due to the unrest, and will remain closed until the situation has stabilized,” Yara says.

The external investigation will be headed by Jan Fougner, partner at the Norwegian law firm Wiersholm, Mellbye and Beck.

Copy of statement.

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The Gaddafi Effect

The drama in Libya, accompanied by the rising oil prices, was naturally the center of investors attention Tuesday.  Libya is the world’s 12th largest producer of oil, and the third largest supplier to Europe, and a potential supply disruption would have a material effect on prices.

“As ex-colonial master Italy has stronger links than most, and the current Italian government has courted a two-way investment relationship with the Gaddafi regime.”

Gavan Nolan


The Markit iTraxx Europe widened to beyond 100 basis points Tuesday morning, hitting this level for the first time in nearly a month, though a slight decline in the oil price to $106 a barrel helped it recover mid-afternoon. Banks and sovereigns were relatively stable today, and it remains to be seen whether the upcoming Irish general election will be overshadowed by events further afield, Markit Financial Information report.

Risk aversion permeated the markets today as investors grappled with the implications of turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa.

After the revolutions in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt, it now seems that Libya is the next most likely country to see a forced change in government.

The protests have been met with a violent response by the Gaddafi regime, prompting widespread condemnation from world leaders. Senior figures from the government, including the justice minister and ambassadors to the US and UN, have abandoned Gaddafi, according to reports.

“The unrest had a predictable effect on other MENA sovereign spreads, i.e. widening. Libya itself doesn’t trade in the CDS market (no debt outstanding) but Morocco, a more liberal North African country, does. Its spreads widened beyond 200bp today, approaching the levels it reached at the peak of the “Jasmine Revolution” in Tunisia late last month,” credit analyst Gavan Nolan at Markit writes in his daily summary. Adding: “In contrast to the highly autocratic Libya, Morocco does have some level of democracy and is a constitutional monarchy. But protests have still broken out in recent days, with groups as diverse as trade unionists and Islamic fundamentalists calling for less corruption and more press freedom – a reminder that democracy is more than elections.”

Western investors the primary concern was the rising price of oil. Brent crude – now considered a better gauge of global demand due to supply issues for WTI – hit $108 a barrel last night.

Libya is the world’s 12th largest producer of oil, and the third largest supplier to Europe, and a potential supply disruption would have a material effect on prices. Like most Arab countries, the national, state-owned oil firm is the major producer. But there are several western-firms that have operations in Libya, including joint ventures with the government.

“As ex-colonial master Italy has stronger links than most, and the current Italian government has courted a two-way investment relationship with the Gaddafi regime. Eni, the largest Italian oil company, has extensive production facilities in the country, as does Spanish firm Repsol. Both firm’s have seen spread widening this week, though the movements are relatively modest so far,” Nolan points out.

The energy and utilities sectors led the broader market wider, though again the movements weren’t dramatic.

The Markit iTraxx Europe widened to beyond 100 bp’s earlier this morning, the first time it has hit this level in nearly a month, though a slight decline in the oil price to $106 a barrel helped it recover mid-afternoon.

“Banks and sovereigns were relatively stable today, and it remains to be seen whether the upcoming Irish general election will be overshadowed by events further afield,” Gavan Nolan at Markit Credit Research concludes.

See also: Markit. Chart of the Day

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