How one clumsy ship cut off the web for 75 million people

Internet Sea Cable DiagramHow one clumsy ship cut off the web for 75 million people | Technology | The Guardian


A flotilla of ships may have been dispatched to reinstate the broken submarine cable that has left the Middle East and India struggling to communicate with the rest of the world, but it took just one vessel to inflict the damage that brought down the internet for millions.

“People just don’t realise that all these things go through undersea cables – that this is the main way these economies are all linked,” said Alan Mauldin, the research director of TeleGeography. “Even when you’re using wireless internet, it’s only really wireless back to your base station: the rest is done over real, physical connections.”

One expert suggested that this week’s accident should be a “wake-up call” to convince governments that keeping such connections secure should be a higher priority. Officials must spend more time and energy making sure that critical communications such as mobile phones and the net are adequately protected – whether from disaster or a terrorist strike, said Mustafa Alani, head of security and terrorism at the Gulf Research Centre in Dubai.

“This shows how easy it would be to attack,” he said. “When it comes to great technology, it’s not about building it, it’s how to protect it.”