This post is also available in Deutsch, Français, 日本語, 简体中文, 繁體中文 and 한국어.

Q2 2023 Internet disruption summary

Cloudflare operates in more than 300 cities in over 100 countries, where we interconnect with over 12,000 network providers in order to provide a broad range of services to millions of customers. The breadth of both our network and our customer base provides us with a unique perspective on Internet resilience, enabling us to observe the impact of Internet disruptions.

The second quarter of 2023 was a particularly busy one for Internet disruptions, and especially for government-directed Internet shutdowns. During the quarter, we observed many brief disruptions, but also quite a few long-lived ones. In addition to the government-directed Internet shutdowns, we also observed partial or complete outages due to severe weather, cable damage, power outages, general or unspecified technical problems, cyberattacks, military action, and infrastructure maintenance.

As we have noted in the past, this post is intended as a summary overview of observed disruptions, and is not an exhaustive or complete list of issues that have occurred during the quarter.

Government directed

Late spring often marks the start of a so-called “exam season” in several Middle Eastern and African countries, where students sit for a series of secondary school exams. In an attempt to prevent cheating on these exams, governments in the countries have taken to implementing wide-scale Internet shutdowns covering time periods just before and during the exams. We have covered these shutdowns in the past, including Sudan and Syria in 2021 and Syria, Sudan, and Algeria in 2022. This year, we saw governments in Iraq, Algeria, and Syria taking such actions.

Iraq

In the weeks prior to the start of this year’s shutdowns, it was reported that the Iraqi Ministry of Communications had announced it had refused a request from the Ministry of Education to impose an Internet shutdown during the exams as part of efforts to prevent cheating. Unfortunately, this refusal was short-lived, with shutdowns ultimately starting two weeks later.

In Iraq, two sets of shutdowns were observed: one impacted networks nationwide, except for the Kurdistan Region, while the other impacted networks within the Kurdistan Region. The former set of shutdowns were related to 9th and 12th grade exams, and were scheduled to occur from June 1 through July 15, between 04:00 and 08:00 local time (01:00 - 05:00 UTC). The graphs below show that during June, shutdowns took place on June 1, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15, 17, 21, 22, 24, 25, and 26, resulting in significant disruptions to Internet connectivity. The shutdowns were implemented across a number of network providers, including AS203214 (HulumTele), AS59588 (Zain), AS199739