Old-school tech steps to the forefront in Egypt

Necessity proves the mettle of yesteryear's inventions

As both political unrest and government attempts to block Internet access continue vigorously today in Egypt, protesters are turning to old-school technologies - fax machines, ham radios and dialup modems - in their attempts to circumvent the censorship.

From a BBC report:

Dial-up modems are one of the most popular routes for Egyptians to get back online. Long lists of international numbers that connect to dial-up modems are circulating in Egypt thanks to net activists We Re-Build, Telecomix and others.

(2011's 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries)

Dial-up numbers featured heavily in Twitter messages tagged with hashes related to the protests such as #egypt and #jan25.

ISPs in France, the US, Sweden, Spain and many other nations have set up pools of modems that will accept international calls to get information to and from protesters. Many have waived fees to make it easier for people to connect.

You say it's been a long time since you've heard dialup's distinctive sound? Me, too, so I found this refresher via YouTube:

Also - and as would be expected - the situation in Egypt is being taken advantage of by Internet scoundrels. James Lyne, senior technologist from Sophos, tells ITP.net:

"What we have to remember is that the bad guys are better at following the hot topics on the internet than any other PR company, news agency or vendor. They are great at this. When Michael Jackson passed away, the top three hits on Google for a period of time were fake anti-virus sites, above CNN.com, who spend an astronomical amount of money trying to do search engine optimization; so be very cautious of the links you click online whether you are from Egypt or not."

For example, one user on Twitter writes: "Awesome, I got my first Nigerian email scam from Egypt (this "offer" is from someone with trapped money due to the civil unrest)."

There will be endless imitators.

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