Informed assessment of vulnerability of undersea cables

Posted on November 17, 2015  /  0 Comments

Few weeks back we reported, without endorsement, a New York Times piece about the possibility of sabotage of trans Atlantic cables. Sabotage is a real threat, says cable expert Doug Madory, but not on the US-Europe routes.

The thing that might not be widely appreciated is the fact that telecommunications lines are also sabotaged with some regularity. Perhaps the most relevant incident to this discussion involved divers (pictured right) who were arrested by the Egyptian Navy in March 2013 for detonating underwater explosives off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt, ostensibly in an attempt to scavenge for scrap metal. The incident damaged SeaMeWe-4, causing major disruptions to Internet service across the Middle East and South Asia. But sadly there are numerous other examples of telecom sabotage, motivated by various reasons. The sabotage of fiber optic lines in California earlier this year is a mystery that the FBI is still investigating. Similar sabotage of fiber lines occurred in Arizona earlier this year. In the African country of Gabon, saboteurs cut service from that country’s submarine cable in both March and April, apparently over a labor dispute between Gabon Telecom’s workers and their new owners.


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