While the internet at large was freaking out about an apocalyptic attack that wasn’t really happening yesterday, something nefarious was going down at the bottom of the sea. Egyptian authorites found a trio of divers down there attempting to sever a crucial submarine communications cable.
Yesterday, Egypt’s Coast Guard stumbled upon a suspicious fishing boat off the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. There’s no word on what tipped them off, but upon investigation, they caught the team of divers up to no good and apparently mid-cut. The cable in question is owned by Egypt Telecom, the country’s monopoly landline provider, making it sort of an important link in the vast network of undersea internet connections.
These guys were slicing away right here by node #5:
The Official Military Spokesman of the Armed Forces of Egypt put it this way in a statement on Facebook (translated):
[The] Navy today successfully foiled 3 divers, while they cut submarine cable for connection to the Internet, the company’s Telecom Egypt, near the coast of Shatby in Alexandria … [The] Navy chased Bnas fishing which was launched from three divers, and arrested all crew members and handed them over to the border guards to take the necessary legal action against them.
And whatever they were up to, it was a good first step to serious internet destruction. If you were out to really cripple the beast like some cartoon mastermind, cutting the cables would be your go-to first step, second only to destroying more guarded land-based nodes. The internet’s web of undersea cables is a verifiable weakness, considering they’re both hard to effectively guard and necessarily act as chokepoints.
So far, there’s no explanation for what the divers’ nefarious plan was, but it’s possible they also had something to do with previously unexplained disruptions to undersea cables serving Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia over the past several days. And coordinated cable cutting — if that was the plan — could seriously cripple the internet for quite a while.
Worry all you want about DDoS attacks, but there are physical targets for internet attacks as well. You just have to be sort of a James Bond-style villian to get to them. [Reuters]
Map: Official Military Spokesman of the Armed Forces of Egypt