Refugees Need Some Help… Also From Techies!

Everybody is aware of the massive amount of refugees crossing Europe borders to try to find a better life. I won’t start a debate about this, it’s not the goal of this blog. But, when I was contacted by a friend who asked me if I could help some refugees in Belgium, I decided to make my very little contribution to help them. The world is ever changing and today’s refugees use a lot of technologies: They all have smart phones and Internet became a mandatory tool to help them to keep contact with their friends, family and to search for useful information in their daily fight to find a more comfortable situation. They are forums, groups, mailing lists where they exchange a lot of useful information. Working with temporary SIM cards and 3G/4G could quickly become very expensive. That’s why my friend asked to help him to deploy a WiFi solution close to their temporary location. Having spare hardware used for BruCON in my basement, it was easy to install something. We borrowed an Internet connection from the house next to their location, installed an access point, the firewall and, of course, some monitoring tools to keep an eye on the Internet usage (after all, we don’t know them and we have to protect ourselves too!). They stayed approximatively three weeks, using the Internet connectivity 24 hours a day. How? Which sites they visited? Which countries were contacted? Which protocols? Here are some interesting stats.

Note: we took care of their privacy and no payload was logged / inspected!

The Internet connectivity was used 24 hours a day with a daily drop between 02:00 and 04:00. About 140 GBytes of data was downloaded.

Internet Usage

What about the applications used? They are aware of all modern mobile apps to stay in touch with their contact. Whatsapp is used a lot to make phone calls with their friends, family. Here are the top applications:

Application Traffic
Facebook 15.09GB
HTTP(S) 10.06GB
Google 7.31GB
Apple 970.18MB
Skype 410.25MB
YouTube 45.4MB
Viber 39.98MB
Jabber 7.19MB
Dropbox 5.21MB
SIP 3.64MB
Yahoo 3.55MB
Twitter 2.93MB

It’s not a surprise to find Facebook in first position. Google and Skype seem popular too. I was surprised by the bad position of Twitter! And what about the countries?

Country Connections
Guinea 27315
Afghanistan 25805
Iran, Islamic Republic of 13753
Ireland 6320
United Kingdom 3711
China 3087
United States 2904
Turkey 2311
Russian Federation 1920
Germany 1711
Netherlands 1665
Italy 748
Korea, Republic of 614
France 594
Pakistan 577
Senegal 457
Taiwan 449
Japan 406
Brazil 297

Many refugees who used the wireless connection are coming from Guinea, no surprise! I presume that Ireland and United Kingdom are in good position because they’re two countries were many refugees would like to move. I’ve no idea why China came in 6th position? (“China is everywhere?”)

Now there are gone. I don’t know where they are, what is their next step but it was rewarding to receive many thanks from them!

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