Risk of Internet blackout in ASEAN

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A new survey by US-based Internet security company Renesys shows highly different levels of Internet blackout risks among ASEAN countries. While Malaysia and Indonesia are “resistant” against Internet blackouts, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Brunei do have a certain, but low risk of a sudden disconnection of the country from the global data stream, Laos has a “significant” risk, and Myanmar a “severe” risk to get disconnected, the study says (see maps).

The survey looks into how a country is connected to international Internet data cables and hubs. In some countries, international access to data and telecommunications services is heavily regulated. There may be only one or two companies who hold official licenses to carry voice and Internet traffic to and from the outside world, and they are required by law to mediate access for everyone else.

But the key to a stable Internet connection to the outside world is the Internet’s decentralisation, says Renesys, and exactly this is not uniform across the world.

Therefore, if countries only have 1 or 2 official data companies that regulate Internet traffic at their international frontier, Renesys classifies them as being at severe risk of Internet disconnection. Those 61 countries globally include Myanmar as the only ASEAN country, and in the East Asia region Bhutan, East Timor and North Korea are at high risk.

Countries that have fewer than 10 legitimated service providers at their international frontier are exposed to some significant risk of Internet disconnection. In ASEAN this country is Laos.

If there are more than 10 internationally-connected service providers, but fewer than about 40, the risk of disconnection is fairly low, but it exists. It’s plausible that the Internet could be shut down over a period of days or weeks by a determined effort, Renesys says. Countries in ASEAN that fall under this category are Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Brunei, and in East Asia, interestingly, China and South Korea. Also, India is one of these countries.

If there are more than 40 internet traffic providers at a country’s frontier, it is likely to be extremely resistant to Internet disconnection. In ASEAN, these countries are Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The high number of providers would make a rapid countrywide shutdown unlikely to happen.

The Renesys study is remarkable as companies and investors are increasingly looking into the commercial risks of Internet disconnection – for political reasons or due to natural disasters -, and the issue is starting to appear on due diligence checklists for foreign investments.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Click to enlarge

A new survey by US-based Internet security company Renesys shows highly different levels of Internet blackout risks among ASEAN countries. While Malaysia and Indonesia are “resistant” against Internet blackouts, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Brunei do have a certain, but low risk of a sudden disconnection of the country from the global data stream, Laos has a “significant” risk, and Myanmar a “severe” risk to get disconnected, the study says (see maps).

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Click to enlarge

A new survey by US-based Internet security company Renesys shows highly different levels of Internet blackout risks among ASEAN countries. While Malaysia and Indonesia are “resistant” against Internet blackouts, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Brunei do have a certain, but low risk of a sudden disconnection of the country from the global data stream, Laos has a “significant” risk, and Myanmar a “severe” risk to get disconnected, the study says (see maps).

The survey looks into how a country is connected to international Internet data cables and hubs. In some countries, international access to data and telecommunications services is heavily regulated. There may be only one or two companies who hold official licenses to carry voice and Internet traffic to and from the outside world, and they are required by law to mediate access for everyone else.

But the key to a stable Internet connection to the outside world is the Internet’s decentralisation, says Renesys, and exactly this is not uniform across the world.

Therefore, if countries only have 1 or 2 official data companies that regulate Internet traffic at their international frontier, Renesys classifies them as being at severe risk of Internet disconnection. Those 61 countries globally include Myanmar as the only ASEAN country, and in the East Asia region Bhutan, East Timor and North Korea are at high risk.

Countries that have fewer than 10 legitimated service providers at their international frontier are exposed to some significant risk of Internet disconnection. In ASEAN this country is Laos.

If there are more than 10 internationally-connected service providers, but fewer than about 40, the risk of disconnection is fairly low, but it exists. It’s plausible that the Internet could be shut down over a period of days or weeks by a determined effort, Renesys says. Countries in ASEAN that fall under this category are Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Brunei, and in East Asia, interestingly, China and South Korea. Also, India is one of these countries.

If there are more than 40 internet traffic providers at a country’s frontier, it is likely to be extremely resistant to Internet disconnection. In ASEAN, these countries are Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The high number of providers would make a rapid countrywide shutdown unlikely to happen.

The Renesys study is remarkable as companies and investors are increasingly looking into the commercial risks of Internet disconnection – for political reasons or due to natural disasters -, and the issue is starting to appear on due diligence checklists for foreign investments.

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