Undersea Cables: The Achilles Heel of our Economies

03 Economy, 07 Other Atrocities, 11 Society, Computer/online security

Franz-Stefan Gady

Franz-Stefan Gady

Foreign policy analyst, EastWest Institute

Huffington Post, Posted: December 21, 2010 02:20 PM

In December 2008 within milliseconds, Egypt lost 70 percent of its connection to the outside Internet. In far away India, 50 to 60 percent of online connectivity similarly was lost. In Pakistan, 12 million people were knocked offline suddenly, and in Saudi Arabia, 4.7 million were unable to connect to the Internet. The economic costs of this 24-hour outage: approximately 64 million dollars.

The recent revelations by WikiLeaks of U.S. national security interests in critical infrastructure vulnerabilities mention the often neglected underpinning of the current connectivity revolution sweeping the planet–undersea cables. In December 2008, four undersea cables were cut simultaneously, affecting Internet users all over the world. While cable cuts happen from time to time nothing, the scope of the cuts illustrate the exposure of our economies to disruption once we lose connectivity.

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Phi Beta Iota: In 1990 Peter Black published a “top ten” hit list for cyber-space in WIRED Magazine, and the conventionals went nuts.  Shortly thereafter Winn Schwartau testified to Congress on the possibilities of an electronic Pearl Harbor, and Robert Steele added to the conventional hysteria by pointing out that absent “action this day,” there would indeed be a day off reckoning in the future.  Now here’s the key bit (not byte):  Information Operations (IO) is mostly about information access, assurance, and analysis. It’s about ensuring that the OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide Act) Loop for all deciders, all action officers, all front-line mission specialists, is as good as it can get.  It’s about culture, education, leadership, mentoring. A huge part of that lies in addressing human errors & omissions, fully 50% of the data or capability loss; and in the design of the over-all global, national, state, and local information architectures.  Redundancy, for example–but we still have companies putting BOTH cables in the same ditch where they can be cut by ONE swipe of a backhoe….  The underwater cables (not just in the ocean but in inland waters as well) have been pointed out as the Achilles heel since at least 1990, 20 years ago.  One wonders what it will take …..

See Also:

Journal: Weaponizing Web 2.0

Journal: Information Security Seven Guiding Principles

1994 Sounding the Alarm on Cyber-Security

Review: INFORMATION WARFARE–Chaos on the Electronic Superhighway

Review: Terminal Compromise