back to article Russia could chop vital undersea web cables, warns Brit military chief

The head of the British Armed Forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, has warned that Russia could cut off the UK by severing undersea communications cables. In a speech made to military think-tank the Royal United Services Institute last night, the air marshal said: "There's a new risk to our way of life, which is the …

Anonymous Coward

The cables are in water and water isn't flammable.

Though that does explain my burning rectum.

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Anonymous Coward

Does sound like the perfect theme for the next Bond movie

Submarine with massive set of bolt cutters strapped to the bow, theme to Jaws playing in the background.

Muhahahahaha

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Re: Does sound like the perfect theme for the next Bond movie

"Submarine with massive set of bolt cutters strapped to the bow..."

Like when HMS Conqueror stole that towed array sonar from the Soviets in the Barents Sea, back in 1982?

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Worried about Phishing attacks...?

...now you can start getting worried about Fishing attacks too.

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I think the bigger issue affecting British communication with the rest of the world.

Is that the Royal Navy will be down to something like 30 combatant vessels in 5 years or so. That is not counting the nuclear missile subs that avoid combat unless forced upon them, or those river-class patrol boats with out autocannon onboard that are mostly useful for scaring away foreign fishing boats.

That's not a great look for an island nation of 60 million people that can't grow enough food to feed itself or produce enough energy with its own resources to keep the lights on.

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Real Time Cyber Ware Fare .... for Fun Factory Fairs

Which Service, Senior or otherwise and other worldly, provides UKGBNI Government Programming Lead to thwart and defeat any and all State and Non-State Enemies fully engaged in these sort of shenanigans ...... https://www.rt.com/usa/413218-us-army-cyber-attack-units/?

The Royal Navy, Royal Air Force or the British Army? Or none of those usual suspects because their limited intelligence automatically disqualifies them? Is it a hybrid Joint Forces Command with Players Rooted in the Ministry of Defence and thus unfortunately dependent upon government funding to deliver the goods for success whenever clearly both the private and pirate sectors are not so confined and restrained and limited in field performance?

And did you spot the deliberate mistake in the shared text of the Speech by General Sir Chris Deverell KCB MBE ADC Gen, Commander of Joint Forces Command delivered on: 10 October 2017 (Original script, may differ from delivered version) ....

Whilst physical attributes such as firepower, mobility and protection continue to be important, information is becoming less of an enabling function, and more the decisive battleground, especially in an era of constant competition in which the boundaries between peace and war have become blurred.
..... for as we know, less is more.

Will anyone know whenever jHub is stood up and fully operational in conflicted and contested fields and ..... well, non spectacularly fabulously effective and way out in front with Leading AI would be a right spooky result, methinks, which others would be hard pressed to replicate and emulate?

And that question to General Sir Chris Deverell KCB MBE ADC Gen, Commander of Joint Forces Command c/o JFC.MOD

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Our leaders are morons.

No, it couldn't.

That isn't how the Internet works.

The Internet was designed to have MULTIPLE hubs destroyed before there is a loss of services. It was designed to survive a nuclear war. Just cutting the trans Atlantic cables would do nothing to our access or communications. Nothing.

This either shows how incredibly ignorant our leadership is or demonstrates how much they are willing to lie in order to demonize Russia.

Probably both.

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Re: Our leaders are morons.

But no one can route around a complete break. Just as water can't flow around a crevasse.

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Re: Our leaders are morons.

Designed, yes.

But then Business redesigned it. Cheap, fast reliable : pick any two.

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Mushroom

Who will save us from the Russian bogeyman

Who was it that once said the best way of distracting a population from problems at home was to start a foreign war. In order to do this you first have to talk up an evil enemy that only you can protect the people from.

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When the enemy is within, foreign bogeymen are to be constantly manufactured

Who was it that once said the best way of distracting a population from problems at home was to start a foreign war. In order to do this you first have to talk up an evil enemy that only you can protect the people from. .... Walter Bishop

Easily enough done in times with vast spaces filled with ignorance and lack of information, Walter Bishop, but impossible to do without one being personally identified as a warmonger worthy of both state special forces or non state terrorist attention whenever more intelligent souls are presenting different news and clearer views.

A life in the shadows as a dead man walking with expensive and dodgy close protection/mercenary soldiers of fortune, who may or may not remain future wedded to their task, is just the start of that particularly peculiar moronic journey of bad choice.

Just ask ex PM TB about the veracity of that observation and reality.

Stupid is as stupid does, and different times and other spaces don't change the result and the price to be paid.

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It's OK, the Prez Jimmy Carter sub can fix the cables again and bypass the Rusky taps with Merrican taps.

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Anonymous Coward

2008 -does anyone remember?

Some of us are not so old that our memories are affected, but in 2008 there were 7(?) submarine cables cut - all very mysteriously. Even El Reg covered this: Egypt offline for weekend after Med seabed cables cut

But the good Air Marshall seems to be begging for more money. Seriously, Russia has very little capacity to project power, or to act at a distance - Syria is the furthermost extent of its influence.

It is worth noting that Qazaqstan is Russia's largest neighbour with a large ethnic Russian minority, and Russia is unable to protect that minority or exert any influence over the ruling elite. So, how much of a threat is Russia?

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Anonymous Coward

Yep, Russia could create a great deal of havoc if they cut undersea cables. Also, if they destroyed the chunnel. Even more if they nuked Parliament. There are a lot of problems Russia, and many other countries, could cause if they wanted to commit an act that was tantamount to a declaration of war.

They won't cut the cables for the same reason they won't nuke Parliament; they don't really want to die in a nuclear holocaust, which would be a distinct possibility when the situation escalated through acts of retaliation.

Some Middle East countries might be a different story, though.

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Troll subs...

...are easy to find, just look under the nearest bridge. If necessary lure them out with a couple of goats.

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Unconvincing threat

As I understand it, the Internet is designed to withstand damaged cables, and simply reroutes the traffic. Unless they can cut them ALL, I can't see it making a lot of difference. It's worth noting that cables fail for many reasons, and they are simply repaired by a specialised cable repair ship.

It is also worth noting that at this time of the year, defence spending is reviewed, and I suspect this has more to do with the defence industry worrying about further cuts! A good scare story often appears at this time of the year, and apart from the entertainment they give are best ignored.

The 'threat' was originally invented by a right-wing 'think tank' called "The Policy Exchange" and seems to have been got up by a conservative MP whose name I have forgotten. He seems to be non-technical and has an MBA which according to his profile is his only qualification. I imagine the think tank is reflecting the industrial sector of the UK's military-industrial complex, with the General representing the military bit.

As threats go, this one is about as convincing as a nine-bob note!

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This recent realisation is way out of context and nothing we haven't known since before WWII. Cables are cut every day by trawlers and the biggest ships dragging anchors to afford extra stabilsation in stormy weather. Much ado about nothing! Peter

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OMG - No facebook!

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Pint

Peach[es] and Italian cream ?

Rather than some kind of high-tech interference, the main fear is that the Russians will simply drop anchor over a cable site and drag it through in order to sever the cable – as happened accidentally off the coast of Jersey last year thanks to the careless crew of an Italian-flagged gas tanker.
Should not then Mr Peach, rather than towards the Russians who, even if they are dastardly, seem to have other fish to fry, direct his efforts towards preventing those inadvertent Italians from doing something which plunges the country into irreparable darkness, as we all recall happened last year ?...

Henri

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Anonymous Coward

One of the first things we did when WW1 was declared was to cut most of the German undersea telegraph cables, forcing them to use routes via 'friendly' territories that were easier to tap (the infamous Zimmerman Telegram was actually routed via Porthcurno in Cornwall)

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Anything for a buck, pound, Bitcoin

This has been a known risk since the first cable was laid. As pointed out, a civilian accident is the most like;y source of interruption. However, acknowledging that contingency plans exist won't get increased funding. The Russians are probably trying to see if there is a rupture or weak spot emitting electromagnetic signals. Or maybe the Russians have developed a way to penetrate the insulation to either intercept or interrupt messages. In any case, it is not a threat that would be diminished by a whole new fleet of ships and planes. It would make defense contractors wealthier though.

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Why RUSSIA?

Have Russia done anything to warrant these accusations being flung at them?

Is this British army guy trying to stoke up this pretence that Russia is an enemy to the UK.

This does nothing to help bring about a World where all humans live in peace together.

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id be more afraid of the u.s.a. than russia.. maybe more afraid of china.. somewhere in between.

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WTF?

Whatever

I can’t for the life of me come up with a single reason that Russia or China would engage in a direct war with the U.K. The only way they’d bother is if they somehow managed to completely cripple the US armed forces while still retaining their own operational capabilities.

Sure, the cables are at risk. So what? Those are public wires. Every nation of consequence has communications satellites in orbit. I hardly think that the U.K. is actually using cables as opposed to sat communications with your armies.

I guess cutting the cable would me GCHQ and the NSA couldn’t see what pr0n video you are watching but that’s about it.

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