As the Egyptian government undertakes what is by some measures the most significant shutdown of Internet and cellphone services in history, citizens are still figuring out ways to get information in and out of the country, and to do so relatively undetected.
Back to basics:
With almost all major Internet service providers in the country ordered to shut down, Egyptians have turned to the Internet service of choice from more than a decade ago: dial-up access. Activists have been circulating lists of dial-up Internet phone numbers of providers outside Egypt. Because land-lines are still working and the service providers are outside Egyptian government control, users have managed to get some connectivity this way.
Even those Egyptians who manage to get online have had to take steps to avoid being monitored. Many have turned to services such as Tor, which reroute a user's traffic through a maze-like network of volunteers' computers around the globe, making it difficult to trace. Others have used Hotspot Shield, a free piece of software that secures a user's Web surfing session. Such tools are vital because many Egyptians believe their access through major service providers is logged, and could be used against them should the present government survive the protests.
A number of activists are currently trying to get satellite-based communication tools into Egypt to get around the lack of cellphone and Internet services. Satellite modems and phones are useful because they bypass government-controlled telecom companies; many of the relay stations through which satellite communication passes are in the United States or Europe. News organizations have relied on these tools to get information out of the country. However, satellite-based tools tend to be expensive, and as such are out of reach for many citizens and activists.