updated 07:23 pm EST, Sun December 2, 2012
Smuggled equipment used to bypass phone lines, cell networks
It has been revealed that Syrian rebels have resorted to using Skype to communicate with each other during the recent country-wide Internet outage. The messaging and voice-calling service was used alongside stockpiled equipment and a satellite connection so as to communicate with others around the country as well as overseas, despite government efforts to stop this from happening.
A report in the New York Times tells of how the rebels would tell other groups about military movements, with equipment smuggled into the country being the main backbone for operational communications. An alleged video chat session with rebels revealed that the barebones room the laptop was being used in also had four battery backups and a generator, as well as other equipment to use while the connection was down. Internet access is now reportedly restored for most of the country.
It has also been alleged that the Free Syrian Army, the rebel group fighting the Syrian government, "relies almost entirely on Skype" as of a few months ago, switching from cellphones and phone lines. Though Skype is still considered secure in its own right, the fact that the software encrypts the communication so well has forced hackers to exploit the machines themselves with malware, in order to listen to any conversation before Skype encrypts it. By using Skype on a satellite phone connection also adds the extra danger to rebels by potentially allowing their location to be revealed.