Tuesday, February 05, 2008

And Then There Were Five

Al Bawaba claims that a total of five undersea cables have been disrupted. "However, the International Cable Protection Committee, an association of 86 submarine cable operators dedicated to safeguarding undersea cables, has declined to speculate on the cause of the breaches, adding investigations were underway."

A total of five cables being operated by two submarine cable operators have been damaged with a fault in each. These are SeaMeWe-4 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-4) near Penang, Malaysia, the FLAG Europe-Asia near Alexandria, FLAG near the Dubai coast, FALCON near Bandar Abbas in Iran and SeaMeWe-4, also near Alexandria.

Now the tin-foil hats are being broken out. The force behind these cable outages is ...

... the Jew. As the Jerusalem Post reports:

Of course, logic never comes into play for these people; it's got to be Israel's fault. Well, I've got a theory of my own. Instead of saying that Israel and/or the CIA - which, as we all know, controls Iraq nowadays - deliberately cut the cables to isolate the Arab world, and especially Iran, and set it up for "something," I think it was the Arabs/Iran themselves that did the cutting to make Israel look bad by having something to blame on us. Or we could just call it a draw, and attribute the breakages to bad winter weather and infrastructure failure - not unheard of with underwater cables.

Why wasn't Israel affected? Simply because we use a different cable, with Egypt and company refusing to allow Israel to rent bandwidth on the same one it uses. Israel's cable is called MedNautilus (http://www.mednautilus.com), originally put together by a consortium that involved Israelis, but is now wholly owned by Spain's Telefonica.

But the MIT Technology Review puts things in perspective. There are lots of cable outages a year. The reason the Middle East is so vulnerable is because they are served by a relatively few.

Undersea cable damage is hardly rare--indeed, more than 50 repair operations were mounted in the Atlantic alone last year, according to marine cable repair company Global Marine Systems. But last week's breaks came at one of the world's bottlenecks, where Net traffic for whole regions is funneled along a single route.

This kind of damage is rarely such a deep concern in the United States and Europe. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are crisscrossed so completely with fast fiber networks that a break in one area typically has no significant effect. Net traffic simply uses one of many possible alternate destinations to reach its goal.

Not so with the route connecting Europe to Egypt, and from there to the Middle East. Today, just three major data cables stretch from Italy to Egypt and run down the Suez Canal, and from there to much of the Middle East. (A separate line connects Italy with Israel.) A serious cut here is immediately obvious across the region, and a double cut can be crippling.

But the vulnerability of the region won't last long. A large number of new cables are planned along the routes that have been cut by the series of accidents. Or rather one should say the exposure of the regin to accidental damage will close as more redundancy is built into the system. Any undersea cable network, however extensive, is potentially vulnerable to the power that controls the seas.



14 Comments:

Blogger S M said...

5!!!
Is this an attempt to deny the internet to India?
or is India just an innocent victim of some Moslem, trying to block the evil internet?

2/05/2008 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Wm_Edwin said...

Internet disruption as a strategic terror plot: damage communications to Islamic countries, while not interfering with Israel's cable.

I know the loss of my Internet connection would leave me feeling blind. But such a plot would introduce a fresh, personal grievance among millions against those dang Hebrews; and, sadly, just the fact that Israel remains unmolested would itself be enough to get this meme up to full rage.

I've not analyzed the effect of the latest break; just some bravo-sierra on a possible terrorist motive.

We have five incidents to plot, now. Increasingly their purpose seems to be hysteria and consternation. That the original breaks took place off Egypt may or may not be significant in this light.

However, Malaysia will be the first cable east of India to suffer a break, if this latest report is true.

Would this indicate, as s_m wonders, an attack on India? It had been their eastward circuits which helped them during the earlier incidents.

2/05/2008 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Pat Patterson said...

But like that broken clock the paranoid might be on to something. Global Marine was and is the owner of the Glomar Explorer the ship that was touted as being designed to dredege manganese nodules off deep water ocean floors but was actually on contract to recover a sunken and nuclear armed Russian sub, the K-129.

So whose to say that the Glomar Explorer wasn't made invisible by the CIA and those perfidious Jews to secretly listen in on Arab internet conversations. But aside from the usual choral arrangements of "Death to America", beheading videos and gay porn it was decided to simply cut the cable before the spies died of boredom.

2/05/2008 08:48:00 PM  
Blogger Joshua said...

John Robb had a couple of interesting observations about the cable cuttings, and particularly their implications for the future:

1) "Disconnection from the global communications grid is very likely to become a form of economic/social coercion in the future (for standard national security reasons all the way down to an inability/unwillingness to crack down on rampant Internet crime, which is growing into a HUGE global problem)."

2) "[C]losed systems like China's that route traffic through firewall choke-points, or other closely held infrastructure, are likely very vulnerable to an attack of this type."

2/05/2008 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Beep said...

Just testing maybe. How many broken cables does it take to disturb live video feeds for news, and military communication to be disrupted during an attack?

2/05/2008 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Yep, I think it is time to consider that the Wahhabbist nutcases are cutting off the internet.

As others have aptly noted, it is not in the best interest for the US to disrupt connections, as we perfer to allow the Islamo-nutballs to hang themselves with their "secret" communications. We certainly don't need cables to conduct our military operations, so I can't see Al-Qaeda cutting cables.

So we're left with Islamo-nutballs, the same kooks bent on driving the infidels from Arabian soil. A throwback to the 11th century.

2/05/2008 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

oth:
Consider a terrorist fleet of underwater cable-cutting Predator Drones!
Certainly could wreak havoc, if they could get the Pakis or Norkors to build said fleet.

2/06/2008 04:23:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Who gets stuck with North Korea?

The day Kim Jong-Il's regime collapses will be a great day for human rights. But it will also be the start of a costly and very risky period as someone from the international community gets stuck cleaning up the mess left behind. China, South Korea, and the U.S. each have an incentive to leave the burden with someone else.Yet there are strategic reasons why each of these powers will very likely get drawn into North Korea after the fall of the Kim regime. As my latest post at TCS Daily explains, this could set the stage for a new period of conflict in northeast Asia.

(Hat-tip to the Belmont Club for recently discussing this subject.)

2/06/2008 04:23:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Tony, check out
This Pic

2/06/2008 05:12:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

North Korea?

It's obvious!

The U.N. should do it!

Heh, heh, heh...

2/06/2008 05:48:00 AM  
Blogger Clioman said...

I understand that illegal downloading is a problem, but just how far will the RIAA be allowed to go?

2/06/2008 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 02/06/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

2/06/2008 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Is it just me, or is Kim Jong-Il basically a cross between Don King, Jackie Chan and Elvis?

2/06/2008 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

From the link provided by Joshua: closed systems like China's that route traffic through firewall choke-points, or other closely held infrastructure, are likely very vulnerable to an attack of this type.

ME LIKE!

Dan: Is it just me, or is Kim Jong-Il basically a cross between Don King, Jackie Chan and Elvis?

Don Chan Il-Presley. If there is justice in this worldly plane, somewhere in the nether reaches of deepest Hell this apparition awaits more than just a few lucky PCP addicts.

2/07/2008 06:56:00 PM  

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