Words beneath the waves Part 3
'Conspiracy theories emerge after internet cables cut', says Simon Lauder of ABC News.
Is information warfare to blame for the damage to underwater internet cables that has interrupted internet service to millions of people in India and Egypt, or is it just a series of accidents?
When two cables in the Mediterranean were severed last week, it was put down to a mishap with a stray anchor. Now a third cable has been cut, this time near Dubai. That, along with new evidence that ships' anchors are not to blame, has sparked theories about more sinister forces that could be at work.
"It was assumed a ship's anchor severed the cables, but now that is in doubt and the conspiracy theories are coming out. Egypt's Transport Ministry says video surveillance shows no ships were in the area at the time of the incident."
But submarine technology has come a long way since the Great War. ZDNet reported back in 2001 that the NSA may have develped the capability to tap underwater fiber optic cables without any detectable changes to its signal. "The NSA recognized from the start that fiber optics could be a problem. In early 1989, the agency assembled a team of researchers in a small warren of labs at its headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. Other researchers fanned out to corporate research centers to bone up on the new technology. Their mission, according to one former NSA researcher who worked on it, was to find a way to get inside fiber-optic cables and secretly siphon off the data moving through them." More efforts have been reported since.
The defense has also improved with US firms touting tools which will detect even minute changes to the signal which indicate a tap in progress. Of course if a cable were damaged and repaired, it might acquire new "normal" characteristics with the tap itself being part of the new normal signal. Does Iran have the technology to know if a tap has in fact occurred?