Pakistani Error Knocks Out Global YouTube Traffic

With so many companies today relying on the Internet as the guts of their communication strategy--a reliance that is only getting more intense as VoIP deployments soar--another Internet vulnerability came to light this week, when a Pakistani telecom firm unintentionally blocked some two-thirds of the world's access to YouTube.

This move comes on top of an incident earlier this month when an undersea cable was cut near Dubai, also wreaking havoc with global Internet traffic. Are more robust safeguards needed? Is these kinds of disruptions can be happen so easily by accidents, how vulnerable would they be to deliberate terrorist efforts?

This weekend's incident began when the Pakistani government ordered access to YouTube to be cut off from that country's citizens. Although that order was evil in and of itself, initial reports suggest that the problem was actually innocent.

According to this Associated Press story, the problem involved the method the telco tried to block that access.

The "Pakistani telecommunications company complied with the block by directing requests for YouTube videos to a 'black hole.' So instead of serving up videos of skateboarding dogs, it sent the traffic into oblivion," the AP story said. "The problem was that the company also accidentally identified itself to Internet computers as the world's fastest route to YouTube, leading requests from across the Internet to the black hole."

Internet efforts must be taken seriously, which means that requests to reroute traffic or to change a domain ownership or anything else need to be verified in a meaningful way.