Blue Coat Appliances Used by Syria to Block and Monitor Web Usage
October 28, 2011- The WSJ reports that network security appliance provider, Blue Coat Systems, shipped Internet-filtering appliances to Dubai in late 2010, in an order valued at an estimated $700,000. According to the WSJ report, Blue Coat believes that 13 of the appliances are being used to, “censor parts of the Syrian Internet. What happened to the 14th is unclear.” Blue Coat reportedly received an order from a Dubai distributor that identified the purchaser as Iraq’s Ministry of Communications.” The actual customer appears to be Syrian government, which has been subject to US trade embargo since 2004. The WSJ further reports that Blue Coat activity logs show that the devices, “blocked about 6% of the more than 750 million requests they filtered from July 22 to Aug. 6,” and that they also, “locked or monitored at least 26,700 attempts to connect to websites run by opposition figures or devoted to covering the Syrian uprising, such as all4syria.info and welati.net. “ A spokesperson for Blue Coat reportedly said the appliances, don’t have access to Blue Coat’s main filtering database, which regularly categorizes new websites to be blocked. Blue Coat says it can’t turn off the devices remotely but the company has cut off service and support contracts for the devices.