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The Internet

Sysadmins Restore Iraqi ISP 210

Hen3ry writes "Brian McWilliams of Wired News reports on the dedicated staff of Iraq's State Company for Internet Services, or SCIS, and how they built, maintained, and rebuilt Internet access before, during, and after the war. Ba'ath Party loyalists still run SCIS but their dedicated employees continue to press on. Fascinating stuff about how one sysadmin managed to keep the country online up until a US missle struck the roof of the Ministry of Information building."
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Sysadmins Restore Iraqi ISP

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  • by zedmelon ( 583487 ) * on Saturday June 21, 2003 @12:42AM (#6260124) Homepage Journal
    "Formerly the official homepage of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime, the site has been scrubbed clean of any traces of the fallen dictator..."

    Why'd they do that? Saddam will only wind up beheading the sysadmins who did it when he gets back from Wal-Mart, picking up this week's armament.

    • by Whyrph ( 620050 )
      Why'd they do that? Saddam will only wind up beheading the sysadmins who did it when he gets back from Wal-Mart, picking up this week's armament.

      But Saddam's in Montreal, remember? Drinking martini's and laughing his arse off. Not in Good Old God Forsaken Family Values Walmart Censored America.
    • "Formerly the official homepage of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime, the site has been scrubbed clean of any traces of the fallen dictator..."

      there is no evidence that saddam hussein exists. if he is in iraq, we should have found him by now! i demand an investigation. the war was about oil. saddam hussein was a distraction! there was no saddam hussein!
    • You're pretty funny...for a conkimus maximus.

      HJ
  • yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Michael's a Jerk! ( 668185 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @12:43AM (#6260128) Homepage Journal
    pity about law and order.

    Great pirorities, guys.
    • To the only serious poster so far:

      You're absolutely right.

      • To parent poster: RTFA.
        US officals are NOT participating.
      • It seems telling that the first serious poster ends up being clueless and making no sense.

        I guess all we can handle is jokes and idiocy.
    • Re:yeah (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrbrown1602 ( 536940 ) <mrbrown @ m r b r own.net> on Saturday June 21, 2003 @12:58AM (#6260176) Homepage Journal
      Uh... if you actually read the article, this wasn't sanctioned or supported by the U.S. government, who is attempting to get law and order in Baghdad. These were just a couple of sysadmins who worked for the Hussein government who have been working (sucessfully) to get the state-run ISP back online.
      • Re:yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sleeper0 ( 319432 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @01:04AM (#6260194)
        am i the only one reading between the lines here?

        "To keep the service running, SCIS engineers fended off denial-of-service attacks, domain hijackings and other foreign hacker intrusions, not to mention regular investigations from suspicious Iraqi government officials. "

        then later

        "According to Harif, the delay in bringing the Uruklink website back online is due to security concerns. While the site's content has been ready for weeks, he said technicians needed extra time to harden the underlying server software against electronic attacks."

        Didn't they probably have more trouble due to internet attacks before the fall rather than after? Also doesnt this quote seem odd, if you were explaining launching internet service you wouldnt say everything was ready to go to be turned on, except that you are still working on a big part of it.

        It seems to me the article is saying that someone else like the US government is delaying the return to service based on their monitoring equipment being installed. Or am i just being paranoid? Oh well, i supose thats what they call victor's rights.
    • Re:yeah (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kegetys ( 659066 )
      At least it will make the geeks go back inside.
    • Law and Order... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MosesJones ( 55544 )

      And PAYING for everything should be the responsibility of the occupying powers.

      Unfortunately US Troops are shooting civilians so its still unclear who is upholding the Law.

      I know I'm joing to take a Karma hit but honestly and moronic one-liner like that gets classified as Insightful days after US Troops fire into an unarmed crowd. If that happened in Zimbabwe everyone would condemn the goverment troops, but in Iraq its "reasonable force".

      • No, you won't get modded down for saying that and you knew it when you posted.

        This is Slashdot. The first reaction to any problem here is "How do we blame it on Microsoft?". The second reaction is "How do we blame this on Bush?".

        Knowing what both you and I know about US troops and the training they go through, no intelligent person would believe they would shoot at an unarmed crowd without force being necessary. However, it seems like the vast majority of the worlds population on either side of the debate
        • Knowing what both you and I know about US troops and the training they go through, no intelligent person would believe they would shoot at an unarmed crowd without force being necessary.

          I agree with you in principle, but in some situations, when under a lot of stress, it does happen that people misjudge the situation and use force even if it's not necessary - there was an incident where US troops killed a carful of people who they thought were suicide terrorists. But anyone can lose control in such a situ

        • Your conclusion is dubious at best. I mean, if it where that simple, then friendly fire would never happen, 'cause hey, there is no good reason to bomb friendly troops, right?

          Wake up to the realities of life, the frank un-trainedness of troops being one of those. Sure, for the SAS and/or other special ops units this might be true, but the rest are 'just' grunts with guns. I dunno if you looked at cnn at the time, but I saw 18 year old girls and boys (NOT men and women) trying to subdue large crowds with on
  • by rob-fu ( 564277 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @12:45AM (#6260135)
    "the ISP has not been restored, and its owners are committing suicide on the walls of Baghdad. I will take you there to show you. In ONE HOUR."
  • Hrmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by acehole ( 174372 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @12:45AM (#6260137) Homepage
    I thought it was standard sysadmin practice to stop DOS missle attacks.

  • News flash (Score:5, Funny)

    by neirboj ( 567806 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @12:48AM (#6260143) Homepage
    "Fascinating stuff about how one sysadmin managed to keep the country online up until a US missle struck the roof of the Ministry of Information building."

    More recent intelligence suggests that the explosion was actually the resulted of an SCIS server reacting violently to being /.'d. US military experts are now considering trying to harness the power of slashdot to use as a weapon against terrorists.

  • by atarione ( 601740 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @12:49AM (#6260149)
    ALL YOUR ISP are Belong to US. good stuff, hopefully they can stop the continued attacks on US forces and restore order in general, but it's nice that Iraqis will soon be able to surf for pr0n again.
  • by mnewton32 ( 613590 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @12:51AM (#6260152) Homepage
    Fascinating stuff about how one sysadmin managed to keep the country online up until a US missle struck the roof of the Ministry of Information building.

    The RIAA must have found out they were pirating music...
    (come on, it was either that or a Bill Gates finding out about a Linux server)
  • Good TLD... (Score:1, Funny)

    by evilviper ( 135110 )
    I don't know about anyone else, but I want to find out how I can get a ".iq" domain...

    If credit cards aren't accepted, I'm sure I could find a camel to trade, somewhere around here.
  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @12:56AM (#6260168)
    I read the article and it said they did go around the UN embargo to get the equipment, but my question is who sold them the gear?

    I'm not trying to troll or anything, I'm really interested in this paradox.

    There were embargos put on Iraq following the war from the UN.

    Everyone violates the embargos.

    US goes around the UN.

    Everyone bitches about the US.

    No one bitches about the people who broke the UN embargo and thumbed thier noses at International Law.
    • China, maybe? They sold the Iraqis all kinds of interesting guidance systems for their AA batteries/launchers.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2003 @01:17AM (#6260230)
      Living in an embargo'd country doesn't mean you can't get restricted stuff. It only means it costs more. Embargo'd countries are a seller's market.

      Same goes for illegal stuff.
    • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @01:19AM (#6260234)
      .... my question is who sold them the gear?

      I'm not trying to troll or anything, I'm really interested in this paradox


      While many nations did partisipate in a trade embargo, some nations did not.

      While I know jack squat about computer gear... there was alot of flack flying around about american ciggerettes making into iraq hands.

      [http://www.corpwatch.org/news/PND.jsp?articleid =4 708]
      U.S. can't knowingly sell them in the Iraqi market -- either directly or through intermediaries -- unless they obtain a license from the U.S. government.

      It's no paradox at all. Assuming the goods were made in America they either had a license to sell to iraq, which is easy enough to believe. Alternativly good could be purchaced by nations neighboring and on good terms with iraq and taking into iraq borders.

      While computers are something listed as being a dual use item, as in could possibly be used as making weapons, the embargo in theory restricted their access. But it's not like Iraq didn't have free trade agreements with it's neighbors to import them. According to this bbc artical anyway... [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1959 481.stm]

    • "No one bitches about the people who broke the UN embargo and thumbed thier noses at International Law." You might want to try and get your news some some other sources other FOX. Lot's of people bitched about it! Companies were prosecuted for these trades. Where is this "smonking guns"? People actually died during this war from both side.
    • by Imperator ( 17614 ) <slashdot2@omershenker . n et> on Saturday June 21, 2003 @01:42AM (#6260284)
      True, but people broke the embargo because they know that an embargo almost never works against a dictator. Think about Cuba or North Korea, for example. The leadership stays strong and rich while the poor suffer. Breaking an embargo (which you have no legal necessity to follow) is hardly the same as starting a war aimed at conquering a country. I applaud the countries that shipped food, medicine, and consumer goods to Iraq. Yes, some may have been skimmed off the top by the government, but it gave to a brutally repressed people what they were too terrified to claim on their own.

      And yes, I know that in the long run most Iraqis will be better off without Hussein. That doesn't mean the method and circumstances of his removal were wise or just.
      • LOL! Oh yes, it was completely out of the kindness of their hearts. Never mind that the items being sold against the embargo benefited only the elite - the Baath party and Republican Guard - not ordinary Iraqis. Let's not mention the billions of dollars of oil being illicitly traded by the regime, an open secret, with the funds going to build billion dollar palaces and Mercedes for Republican Guard commanders.

        Breaking the embargo is worse than deposing the dictator, because it allowed the dictator to re
        • If the US is so good, why does Halliburton have contract to build and exploit bases in Iraq for the next ten years? What is the US still doing in Iraq at all? Selfgovernance has to start somewhere and somewhen...
          • Because Haliburton, specifically Kellog Brown & Root, has a LOGCAP contract with the military. It is a military outsourcer. As a result of Bush Sr. and Clinton's drawdowns on the military budgets and manpower, the military has taken advantage of private/public venture statutes enacted in the Reagan Administration to outsource menial tasks that are tangential to the military's prime mission of war fighting.

            Read:
            http://www.corpwatch.org/issues/PID.jsp? a rticleid= 6008

            We're still in Iraq because the jo
      • I believe Sadam's quote was that he would still be drinking Coke(TM) is 20 years. Basically if you were a top Bath party official you lived the life as elites do anywhere around the globe, if you were a middle class Iraqi you went from a fairly decent life to one of a third world subsistance existance. The problem is that this would have likely happened even without the embargo (probably to a lesser degree). Oil rich nations have some of the highest rates of destitute poverty of the developing or industrial
    • Everyone bitches about the US.

      That's because the US is everybody's favorite punching bag. There is little interest in criticizing anyone else.
    • It isn't too hard to do. In overly simplistic terms -- Sadam sends his nephew's wife's cousin to drive over to Saudi or Syria or Turkey or wherever is convienent enough, he goes down to the local CompuUAE and picks up equipment just like any other local buyer, puts it in the back of his truck and drives back to Iraq. Maybe be bribes the outgoing border guards, maybe he just takes a route that is unguarded. Now the equipment has been officially smuggled into Iraq and is available for resale with an extrem
      • Maybe it was the Chinese. They didn't have a problem breaking the embargo by contracting to lay miles of fiber optic cable for a state of the art air defense system in Iraq. Maybe they did a little side work for the Ministry of Information while they were in there, eh?

        Derek
    • China probably threw in a few routers along with the fiber optic communications systems they sold Saddam to link up his antiaircraft radars. The ones in the no-fly zone we kept bombing, during both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

      Really, it's not that difficult to break an embargo. We can't even keep illicit white powder out of this country. You can dramatically trim the quantity of goods traded but never stop all of them. (Especially when the target nation is friends with France.) Embargos again
    • Embrago doesn't mean you can't buy stuff, it means that noone (in the countries that support the embrago) can't sell you stuff. So Iraq is not violating any International laws.

      The US, on the other hand, did violate them in both the letter and the spirit. That's why everyone bitches about US.

      HTH.
    • Just because something is illegal doesn't mean you still can't get it. Cocaine is illegal in the US and there's still tons of it here. And the US border guards actually care about trying to stop it from coming in, something which I doubt the Iraqis did.
    • Partly that's because the sactions basically amounted to a weapon of mass destruction all by themselves; at least a million people died as a direct result of those sanctions...more than died in Hiroshima, iirc.
      Not only that, but very strange things found themselves on the 'restricted due to dual use' list...and do remember, the US killed more civilians in Iraq than died in the WTC attacks.
  • iq (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dtfinch ( 661405 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @12:58AM (#6260175) Journal
    As soon as they're available, I suspect that a lot of people will want to register numeric .iq domains. 180.IQ will probably be the first to go.
    • Re:iq (Score:3, Funny)

      by Imperator ( 17614 )
      Someone should get one of {0.iq, no.iq, negative.iq low.iq} and CNAME it to whitehouse.gov.
    • Re:iq (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dissy ( 172727 )
      Unfortunatly since america controls the roots, .iq will not be added back globally untill we are on better terms than currently.
      Granted they can set it up and run their top level, but every ISP that runs their own name servers would need to add the cctld to their root hints to see it :/

      But, it looks like after checking, .iq is added back to the roots and pointing somewhere.

      % dig @a.root-servers.net. iq.

      iq. 2D IN NS NS2.MYNET.NET.
      iq. 2D IN NS NS1.MYNET.NET.

      FAIT
  • ...or is the acronym too close to SCSI? I read therough the article and think "that made no sense whatsoever" so I go back just to notice it sais SCIS instead of SCSI.
  • by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @01:03AM (#6260190)
    I think this might be what Sen Hatch has in mind for copyright violators.
  • Not according to Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf [welovethei...nister.com]! No American missile has struck the Ministry of Information building. Never!! We have mercilessly slaughtered all US missiles with shovels. Do not in fact repeat their lies! Lying is not allowed in Iraq, so do not believe this dwarf Bush's forked snake tongue. Their silly missiles are committing suicide on the walls of Baghdad. We will drink American blood!!
  • Alas, ... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @01:09AM (#6260206)

    ...to survive all that and then be taken out by a slashdotting.

  • by geekwench ( 644364 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @01:11AM (#6260212)
    It would appear that the sysadmins literally poured blood, sweat, and tears into keeping the ISP up and running under Hussein. Not to mention going way above the "call of duty" to make certain that something of the equipment survived missle attacks, fires, and looting.
    The real point here is that contact with the outside world is an extremely valuable commodity to these people, and something that we in the Western nations take horribly for granted. Think of Iraqi expatriates in other parts of the globe who don't know if relatives are alive or dead. Or, in the interest of balancing out FoxNews' reporting, a hypothetical Iraqi blogger can now give the outside world a better picture of what's going on in the country. I think that this is a positive step towards rebuilding. Yes, it's an odd, sideways step, given the other needs. But when you consider just how much emotional investment the sysadmins had in this project, their priorities are entirely understandable.
    • in the interest of balancing out FoxNews' reporting

      So if you're the balance for Fox, who is the balance for CNN?

      You see, the success of Fox is directly tied to the rise of CNN and their particular flavor of the truth. Bemoan them all you want, but when you say that Fox needs a balance, instead of realizing that they are the balance, you come across like an idealogue.
      • " instead of realizing that they are the balance, you come across like an idealogue."

        Anybody who defends fox is by definition an idealogue.

    • But when you consider just how much emotional investment the sysadmins had in this project, their priorities are entirely understandable.

      Plus, what else are they going to do? I'm sure these sysadmins are glad to have real jobs where they do real work for real money. The Bush administration doesn't seem to have any more of an economic plan for Iraq than they do for the United States. Something like a third of Iraqis are unemployed and more are severely underemployed. Surely the Americans could have figur

    • http://dear_raed.blogspot.com/ Real Iraqi blogger. He's had some stuff to say about the ISPs before.
    • Or, in the interest of balancing out FoxNews' reporting, a hypothetical Iraqi blogger can now give the outside world a better picture of what's going on in the country.

      Or, in the interest of balancing BBC World News reporting, Where's Raed can report on stuff that is closer to reality. Like, reporting from this planet.

      Derek
  • firewalls (Score:4, Funny)

    by rf0 ( 159958 ) <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Saturday June 21, 2003 @01:11AM (#6260214) Homepage
    Well they aren't that effective against a DDOS by missiles. Prehaps they need to upgrade :)

    Rus
  • by MavEtJu ( 241979 ) <slashdot@@@mavetju...org> on Saturday June 21, 2003 @02:14AM (#6260353) Homepage
    had put in long hours cobbling together bootlegged software and

    Someone needs to tell these guys about FreeBSD and Linux.

    • According to Netcraft [netcraft.com], they've been running (sensibly enough) Solaris/Apache on net-facing systems. For a while they also had Linux boxes there. I'm guessing the bootlegged Windows systems were probably for billing/admin use.
    • Someone needs to tell these guys about FreeBSD and Linux.

      SCO says Linux is bootlegged software!! (And probably will for *BSD soon, too...)
  • Ironically, it was Operation Iraqi Freedom that ultimately severed Iraq's residents from the Internet.

    Ironically? Not really. Knowing a little bit about history would give you a lot of examples, e.g.

    DDR - Deutsche Democratische[sp] Republik
    • Ironically, it was Operation Iraqi Freedom that ultimately severed Iraq's residents from the Internet.

      A better example about irony, from the present: People's Republic of China.

  • by switched4OSX ( 668686 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @02:31AM (#6260385)
    So they would be free to download pr0n. God bless America
  • Dissapointing... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2003 @03:57AM (#6260559)
    I find it very telling that an unprovoked attack on the USA that killed around 2,795 [cnn.com] is a "tragedy" and a "slaughter" and justifies destroying all our rights and 2 foriegn countries. And yet, another unprovoked attack that kills at least 3,240 civilians [yahoo.com] is just a "few sandy buttholes."
    • by borgasm ( 547139 )
      The main difference between Iraq and the WTC was intent.

      We have no problem with the Iraqi people...our problem was with the government...who in fact was killing its own people.

      The WTC was intended to kill as many innocents as possible. Our military develops weapons that try to minimize that casuality rate, so innocents like the people living in Iraq are spared.

      Nobody would like to use war as a tactic, but it happens....
    • And the fact that the actions of the Tobacco industry kill over 400,000 people every year is just business as usual in the Democratic, special interest, capitalistic, world...
  • by ATAMAH ( 578546 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @04:15AM (#6260597)
    All this is really good, but what i really want to know is where can i register my pr0n.raises.your.iq ?
  • Geek kinship (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bigwang ( 67863 )
    "Insofar as it is possible to divide people into categories, the surest criterion is the deep seated desires that orient them to one or another lifelong activity. Every Frenchman is different. But all actors the world over are simila, in Paris, Prague or the back of beyond." -- Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
    I love these kinds of stories. The connection between us geeks is remarkable. And I speak of real geeks, not mercenaries or perpetrators.
  • When asked about widespread rumors that the Iraqi government spied on SCIS customers, Harif declined to answer.

    "It is not very safe here today to say all the information," Harif said. ... And Carnivore is Everywhere!

  • Looting. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by twitter ( 104583 ) on Saturday June 21, 2003 @11:06AM (#6261720) Homepage Journal
    They salvaged servers and other computer hardware and moved it into the protection of their homes.

    Their foresight may have saved Iraq's only ISP. After Baghdad fell to coalition troops on April 9, the Information Ministry was vandalized and set ablaze. Internet cafes were ransacked. Looters ransacked warehouses containing millions of dollars of SCIS computer gear, according to Harif.

    Hmmm, one guy takes gear to their house and it's "foresight" while others doing the same are called looters. I suppose it helps that Harif brought enough of it back for things to work. I imagine much of the stolen warehoused computers will be working too now. All around a good deal. People making use of equipment that would have sat in a warehouse forever should not be looked at in the same light as people breaking into hospitals and stealing airconditioning equipment. The fall of a totalitarian government is not easy.

The only difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman is that the car salesman knows he's lying.

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