The Wall Street Journal today brings us an amazing story of a few smart engineers, a couple of big-money backers, and one enormous hardware hack. But today's tale of Libyan rebels and a few international telecom experts hijacking the Libyana cellphone service from strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi's government isn't just another chapter in an ongoing story. It's poignant--perhaps even prescient--reminder of the way 21st century technology is reshaping the geopolitical landscape.
Since Iran's "Twitter Revolution" and Egypt's successful ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak (largely organized via social networking tools), plenty has been written about the role of social media in political revolution and freedom on the whole. But social media relies on the Web, and in cases of revolution dictatorial regimes often do what they do best: they pull the levers of power, in this case the lever that shuts down the Web.
But Libya's story isn't one of Internet or social media revolution--in Libya's case, a team of hackers hijacked the actual communications infrastructure that Ghadafi's government had shut down, establishing their own network in its place.
Back when Libya's rebellion was just getting underway, Ghadafi cut the cord on communications. All telecom infrastructure in the country had been built to hub in Tripoli so his government could both control and monitor Internet and phone data. Rebel strongholds in the east and west were then left with no signal. Rebel fighters on the front lines were reduced to using a system of flags to signal troop movements. Coupled with signal jamming being carried out by Gadhafi's forces, the rebels we fighting a 21st-century battle with tactics reminiscent of the high Middle Ages.
When the problem became clear to Libyan-American telecom executive Ousama Abushagur, he hastily scribbled a workaround on an airplane napkin. The Libyana network infrastructure still stood, it had just been severed from the hub in Tripoli. All the rebels needed was to hack a new hub to create an independent network.
For that, they needed equipment that would work on the Libyana system. Huawei, the Chinese company that outfitted Libyana refused. So U.A.E. and Qatar helped buy the telecom equipment needed in Benghazi and used their diplomatic means to help get it there.
From there, three Libyan four Western engineers teamed with a few Libyana engineers in Benghazi to integrate their new equipment into the existing network. They were even able to hack the Tripoli-based database of phone numbers, patching existing numbers into the system and thus easing the restoration of communications. Etisalat, the U.A.E. telecom, provided a satellite feed, and like that the rebels had their own cellphone network. It was a righteous hack to be sure.
But moreover, it shows how a handful of tech-savvy individuals (and, admittedly, a few million dollars from some oil-rich allies) can undermine the efforts of entire regimes that think they've got their communications channels under firm control. The revolutions of the future won't rely on signal lanterns and riders in the night, but on the ability to keep information flowing. The Abushagur hack is a model for exactly how that can play out even when those in power try to silence the entire system.
"Can you hear me now?"
This is one of the coolest thing I've ever read... very inspiring.
Chinese refused, soo helpful aren't they. Huawei is a Chinese state owned company. I think the dragon is hiding more than we suspect it of.
ok, now that your oil-rich allies have done their thing, it's time for them to make gas cost below $2.50/gal.
dude, this is probably one of the biggest hacks ever made. I mean, really, taking the entire telecom network of a nation and rerouting it for your own purpose is flat out genius
Metamorphosis - The Chinese do what is best for the Chinese and assume everyone else will do what is best for themselves as well. Thus, they often seem cold on international affairs, because honestly, if it does not directly affect China - they DO NOT CARE. Somebody else's revolution, massicre, humanitarian crisis, etc is Somebody else's problem. China will do for China, let them do for them.
So, if China cannot get anything good from Lybia as is (they are not currently buying goods from China), why would China get envolved? Not to mention, they sold the good to Ghadafi - selling them to his enemies in his country is not exactly an honorable buisness decision.
The simple truth is that China's buisness interests (along with most of the world's buisness interests) in Lybia would be better off if Ghadafi had slaughtered the dissidents and kept the status quo. To "social justice" countries, that is an atrocity that must be stoped. In China, however, the polite thing to do when there is abuse is someone else's house is to turn away and not draw addition attention or shame to that house.
... so what did we learn from this? the rebels are privately funded by big oil business? .. is the UAE and big oil inciting rebellion in libya?
What exactly is hidingbetween the lines here???
Indeed, I concur, China is quote- "Africa was being “raped and pillaged” by China.". This was a quote from a governor of the African Union. China prefers to bypass the Union and deal with African states on an individual basis, furthering control and division on the continent. I think your incorrect, since there are over 30,000 PRC citizens working in Libya, hardly of no interest. Once Gaddafi is gone, I foresee it hard for the Chinese to do business there.
The coalition being there is having an untold positive effect on the west economically, and negative on China's by forcing inflation to rise. Very clever indeed. You are well and truly mistaken to believe China not to be and Imperial power. If it were to come out of that cupboard, I think the world should be very worried. Considering their disregard for Human Life.
This may provide some answers as to why Libya.
This is the first time a social invention with the ability to cheaply mass distribute information has ever helped shape a nation..... again...
Can someone please tell the U.N scumbags to get out of Libya? American fools don't even realize that the "rebels" are al-cia-da....Libya is doing fine, leave them alone.
And to oakspar...why don't you read some books before you reveal your ignorance. "china has no interest in libya"...LMAO..that's a false statement
This is an ILLEGAL war...Ghadaffi was defending his government from rebels...not killing his own citizens...the rebels are financed by the U.N
WAKE UP SHEEP
I have no idea where do you live, but I assume in a very democratic country, which has never had a rebellion. I live in Eastern-Europe. We had a few. We still do. When people say, it is enough, then it is enough. You go, or you'll be gone. It's as simple as it is.
@Aldrons Last Hope, stop believing and spreading lies. Qaddafi was slaughtering Libyan citizens who were rebelling against his dictatorship. The evidence is indisputable. What the heck is an "illegal war" and what relevance does so-called "legality" have? Is there such a thing as a "legal war"? Whether or not the U.N., NATO or the U.S. should have gotten involved is debatable, but it is immoral to watch a murderer like Qaddafi slaughter unarmed protesters without intervening if you have the means to do so. The bullies, dictators, oppressors, terrorists and other vermin of the world must be eradicated when the opportunity to do so arises.
I couldn't agree more. Had he not blackmailed the EU, planned the lockerbie bombing, ordered the death of PC Ivon Fletcher, executed his own, clung to power for 40 years, assisted the IRA, attacked the Libyan people for wanting change and threatened them with genocide. Then war / no-fly zone would not be justifiable.
I think Aldrons Lost Hope has his tin foil hat wrapped too tightly around his head.
Or maybe he should change to another news channel the propaganda his spouts only makes him fun to mock.
This is for oil, and to build more bases in North Africa, WAKE UP SHEEP!
Aldron is correct in his statements, this entire debacle is simply resource driven, the US military has been used as pawns in a global domination scheme since the Korean war, if this were truly a humanitarian mission we wouldn't be using highly toxic depleted uranium munitions... Also why are we enlisting the help of Al Qaeda fighters? Aren't we supposed to be pissed at them for some lie or another... And why aren't we sending aid to Yemen or Bahrain? simple, they don't have oil... the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya were planned before 9/11 as well as the other military actions that have taken place since then, wake up people, the global elites are using our military forces to make themselves richer... Nothing they've put our military up to in the last 50 years has done anything towards keeping America safer, unless of course you consider making more enemies for sticking our nose where it belong safer...
@ender7718...you bring up a serious point..depleted uranium, d.u is also very dangerous to the people firing the gun...it leaves a trail when it's fired and the U.S personnel are breathing this in and have been getting sick (cancer) because of the use of this poison. It's really disgusting on the one hand the military are used as disposable pawns, and on the other they are held up as heroes. Keep telling the truth ender7718...they hate that. Peace bro.