February 6, 2008
What I’m talking about? About the four underwater cables in the Middle East and India which stopped working. On the 30.1.2008 the underwater cables â€œFiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG)â€ and â€œSEA-ME-WE 4â€ got cut before Egypt. First everyone was talking about ships which possible cut the cables, but now the Egypt ministry of telecommunication went public with the information that there were no ships within 12 hours in that area.
On the 1.2.2008 the Indian telecommunication company Reliance Communications reported an error with its cable Falcon before the coast of the Emirates. And now last weekend there was an other incident with an under water cable from the Qatar Telecom (Qtel) between the islands Haloul and Das, but this time it seems at least to be a power supply problem.
Anyway quite unstable the underwater cables today …..
Now why I’m posting this? It should show you that the internet can be attacked physically. Most people think the Internet was made for a nuclear war, and it is not possible to damage it to a large degree. Even as this is a myths it had some trues in the past but now everything is driven by the need to be economical. This leads to the point that the backbone of the internet is only provided by a new physical connections / organizations.
But this leads also to the point that I don’t think that this 4 incidents where related ….. or better call it coordinated, as an attacker could do better â€“ or it was a lame attacker. But it should show us that the internet is an not that hard target even for guys which don’t know anything about computers. You need only to know which lines run where find the spots you need to hit at the same time to cripple the internet in a region.
It should be therefore in the strategic interest of most countries to increase the number of physical connections and organizations handling the internet backbone. But I’m aware that this is not that easy â€“ at least the number of organizations and connections should not go down further. With every fusion of backbone providers some manager will look at 2 cables going from A to B will remove one as its more economical. With this attitude we are on the way to a non-failure tolerant internet on which our whole economy builds. I can’t think about a better target to damage a modern economy.