back to article Report: Underwater net cables are prime targets for terrorists and Russia

A report by right-leaning think tank Policy Exchange highlights how global undersea cables are poorly protected, and suggests that Britain should lead the way in remedying this. The report, titled Undersea Cables: Indispensable, insecure written by Conservative MP Rishi Sunak, discusses how easily cable-based communications …

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But once we "take back control" of the Med and Suez ....

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Forced to use radio

I have read that the Allies cut German cables in WW2 to force them to use radio, which was much easier to tap.

And in WW1 Britain and Germany cut many opposing cables.

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Re: Forced to use radio

On 5 August 1914, just a day after war was declared, Britain acted by cutting five of Germany’s undersea telegraph cables, which fanned out into the Atlantic from the English Channel. A ship called the Telconia sailed out into the English Channel sunk its anchor and hauled up the five cables, cutting off North America, and many of Germany’s more distant territories.

“Germany was instantly cut off from its major trading centres and the rest of the world. She was isolated from important and strategic military tools. It’s a very important piece of very early British technological decision making.”(Dr Richard Noakes, University of Exeter).

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Military strategy

"evidence by Sunak that Russia may be considering disrupting infrastructure as part of its military strategy"

Given that disrupting infrastructure has been a large part of everyone's military strategy since military strategy was invented, it doesn't take a genius to figure that Russia is, in fact, part of "everyone". As various comments above note, even this specific kind of attack is over a century old, dating back to at least WW1.

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Sharks with Lasers!

Mind you they might just chew the cables...

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Coat

Re: Sharks with Lasers!

Sharks seek out the electric field associated with the undersea telecom cables and do attack them, one reason why the cables are armoured!

The +/- (plus at one end, minus at the other) power feed into the cables is used for powering the laser amplifiers, domestic fridge sized boxes under the Atlantic, some trials of laser pumped erbium doped fibre optics waveguides were carried out, where the soliton pulses were able to cross the ocean without degrading the pulse, hence not needing the amplifiers, hence potentially avoiding the hungry sharks!

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Boffin

Defence in depth

This is why we need the Dark Web

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How many days ago was it Russia announced they were looking at their own root DNS servers?

Now do you see why Russia need them?

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Meh

"but the laws governing them are lax"

Ooh yes of course, good thing we have those tight laws on setting off explosives and attacking people on the street with knives, hence never having such incidents.

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Question: would a high-strength permanent magnet have any effect on a fibre-optic cable?

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Magnet vs cable?

Depends on the type of steel used in the strength members. If its austenitic stainless, it will ignore the magnet. I don't know what is actually used.

Picking up with magnet? Tough to do. Stuff is heavy, one tonne per km seems to stick in my mind. Grappling hook would probably work better.

Had song and dance years ago about threats to terrestrial internet. Briefing after briefing had the same tired stock photos of men in turbans looking furtive or weak-chinned teenagers in hoodies hunched over keyboards. Rep from our provider (name rhymes with 'verizon') finally exploded, "Bullshit!!! The real threat is Feddy Fredneck atop his Fiber Seeking Backhoe tearing out armfuls of fiber while scratching his butt and ignoring his foreman..."

You never forget a comment like that!

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Pint

The reg really needs to do an article on...

...the life and times of Cyrus West Field. I will raise a pint to the gentleman.

He is the man behind the first transatlantic cable and demonstrated character and extraordinary perseverance despite crushing failures. They certainly do not make men like him anymore; our inability to plan and act beyond one fiscal quarter in the future would have shocked him and his investors.

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Space-based redundancy

A low earth orbit internet access network such as that in development by SpaceX (https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/4/15539934/spacex-satellite-internet-launch-2019) might mitigate this problem.

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