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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
HomeWorldPolitico: After Nord Stream, Will Russia Attack Undersea Internet Cables?

Politico: After Nord Stream, Will Russia Attack Undersea Internet Cables?

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No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Nord Stream energy pipelines. But US and European officials were quick to point the finger at the Kremlin – amid warnings that the labyrinthine network of undersea cables that feed the global internet could be a tempting target.

The attacks against the two lawsuits natural gas Nord Stream have raised concerns that the undersea cables connecting humanity to the internet are at risk. Western policymakers are asking: what will be the goal next?

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No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Nord Stream energy pipelines. But US and European officials were quick to point the finger at the Kremlin – amid warnings that the labyrinthine network of undersea cables that feed the global internet could be a tempting target.

So far, few, if any, of these cables—which connect all the continents and represent a digital avenue on which everything from YouTube videos to financial market trades moves—have been sabotaged by foreign agencies or non-governmental actors. .

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But the threat is real. In part, this is due to the lack of security around these cables and the willingness of authoritarian regimes like Russia to go after civilian targets and use so-called hybrid warfare tactics.

“It’s been a target in conflicts for more than a decade now,” Keir Giles, an expert on Russian intelligence warfare at Chatham House, a think tank, told Politico. “If special attention is not paid to securing these vital assets, Western countries will have only themselves to blame afterwards.”

Almost all of the world’s Internet traffic is carried over a global network of more than 400 fiber optic pipelines spanning a total of 1.3 million kilometers. They are operated almost exclusively by private companies such as Google and Microsoft, as well as France’s Alcatel Submarine Networks and, increasingly, China’s Huawei Marine Networks.

There are dozens of these cables connecting the EU to the United States – arguably the world’s most important ‘digital link’ – although similar networks connect Latin America to Asia and Africa to Europe, respectively.

Part of the vulnerability is due to the location of these cables. They span the globe and are often located in extremely remote areas that are easily accessible by underwater or unmanned underwater vehicles. The lack of regulatory oversight over how these networks operate also makes it difficult for companies and governments to protect them. Most of these pipelines are located in international waters.

There are also the areas where major submarine cables intersect, which represent some of the highest risk potential targets. For Europe, these include Gibraltar and Malta, where many of the EU’s connections to Asia reach land after passing through Egypt’s Suez Canal. For the US, New York’s coastline is the main point of connection with Europe. The west coast of the United Kingdom represents a connecting hub between the US and the rest of Europe.

Concerns center on a foreign government – such as Russia, China or North Korea – sabotaging these undersea cables, which are mostly unguarded and beyond the control of Western governments.

If the Kremlin does attack, for example, it could potentially bring down part of a regional network connecting the Baltic countries to the rest of Europe. But to have a long-term impact on the global undersea cable network, Russia — or any other aggressor — would have to act on a scale that would likely be easily detectable by Western national security agencies. It would also harm its citizens’ access to the internet.

“We’re no longer in the position we once were where you cut a wire and everything falls,” commented Keir Giles.

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Megan
Megan
I am currently a news writer for News Bulletin247 where I mostly cover sports news. I have always been interested in writing and it is something I am very passionate about. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and spending time with my family and friends.

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