Protection of undersea cables causing concern

March 10, 2016

Following the recent snapping of four undersea cables carrying global Internet traffic, security concerns about cables have been raised for the first time.

The breaks, which occurred in February at four different locations in West Asia, have been repaired but have captured the attention of various governments. Work needs to be done on global co-operative efforts with the various nations which have already taken proactive steps.

The first two snaps are believed to have been caused by a ship dragging its anchor near Egypt, which affected traffic to West Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The third was between the UAE and Oman. Nothing concrete is known about the cause of the snap. The fourth cable connected Qatar and the UAE and was due to a power outage.

It is being proposed that governments should play a role in cable security, and that it should not be left solely to the 86-member cable company consortium, International Cable Protection Committee.

Undersea cables carry approximately 95% of global Internet traffic, and need to be secured against accidental damage, technical glitches and sabotage attempts. A terrorist plan to attack cables cannot be fully ruled out. Ever since 9/11, eventualities that would not have been factored in earlier have emerged as security concerns.


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