Damaged European undersea cables impact internet connectivity worldwide

Alfonso Maruccia

Posts: 181   +91
Staff
Why it matters: Multiple undersea cables in the south of France were cut overnight, making Internet access unreliable globally. Engineers fixed one broken link, and investigations are still ongoing. Fingers have been pointed at Russian submarines because of the Ukraine conflict, but investigators have not yet found any evidence supporting this assumption.

On Wednesday night, a serious incident involving an undersea cable in the south of France caused widespread internet connectivity issues. At least three fiber cables were severed at 20:30 (UTC), making Internet access slower for users in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Cloud companies quickly worked to fix the backbone.

According to a report by cloud security company Zscaler, the unexpected cable damage resulted in packet loss and a latency increase for websites and applications traversing the impacted paths. The company identified three broken links: Marseille-Lyon, Marseille-Milano, and Marseille-Barcelona. Zscaler made routing adjustments to internet traffic where possible to mitigate the issue. However, in some instances, actions were hindered by app and content providers still using the severed links.

In a later update posted at 1:03:15 UTC, Zscaler confirmed that workers had fixed one of the affected links resulting in a drop in packet loss and reduced latency for websites and internet applications. The remaining links (likely Marseille-Milano and Marseille-Barcelona) were confirmed severed through direct fiber testing. However, search operations to find the damaged points in the undersea cable are still in progress.

While Internet connectivity is slowly returning to normal, investigations are ongoing locally and globally. French authorities have collected evidence about the incident. At the same time, unrelated cable damage in the United Kingdom sparked wild speculation that the cut lines might involve unknown Russian saboteurs.

The BBC also reported that an undersea cable connecting the Shetland Islands to Scotland suffered damage at about the same time as the South France incident. The break left the Shetlands isolated from the rest of the world. The Shetland cut occurred while technicians were still working to restore another cable connecting the Faroe Islands to Shetland that got severed a week ago.

The chance for multiple incidents occurring to the European undersea fiber infrastructure is slim. Hypothetical scenarios of Russian submarines damaging the world's internet infrastructure seem rather extreme. However, the current geopolitical crisis created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine raises concerns regarding Kremlin involvement.

Permalink to story.

 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,594   +2,951
Within the last week two subsea communications cables that serve the islands north of Britain have been 'damaged.' Comms cable linking Scotland to the Shetlands failed yesterday and another the week before linking the Shetlands to the Faroes. They both stopped working.

It does happen now and again with fishing trawlers dragging nets in that area. However, both at the same time is a very rare coincidence with no doubt low odds. No jumping to conclusions, but I think that they must be treated with suspicion and investigated before any conclusion is reached.

Here I am reading that the same type of incident has occurred on multiple important subsea cables of another European NATO member, within hours of the one in Scotland. These governments might want to sit down and compare notes....
 
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psycros

Posts: 4,552   +6,858
To be fair, we said right off the bat that there is no evidence Russia was involved yet and earmarked suggestions that it was as "wild speculation."

EDIT: It's sometimes helpful to read past the subheadline. ;)

I wouldn't bother feeding the russtrolls. Just enjoy the ***-whipping their currently taking. A shame Ukraine has to be the free world's proxy and take most of the hits.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
Hmmmmm ..... not the sort of thing that a saw fish goes after so I seriously doubt it was an accident of nature, plus the Russians have been known over the years to engage in this sort of activity. Not to point any fingers but I'd sure be looking for any caviar tins or vodka bottles laying around in the area ......
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,594   +2,951
Hmmmmm ..... not the sort of thing that a saw fish goes after so I seriously doubt it was an accident of nature, plus the Russians have been known over the years to engage in this sort of activity. Not to point any fingers but I'd sure be looking for any caviar tins or vodka bottles laying around in the area ......

Without putting too fine a point on it, the GIUK gap is a viper's nest of submarine operations.

It has probably been the most active area for submarine fun and games anywhere in the world for the past 70 years. From what I understand from former submariners I talk to; American, Russian, British and French nuclear subs frequently cat and mouse in the area. That's besides the capable diesels variously fielded by Northern European states.

It's a big ocean out there. Curiously though these submarines have been known to suffer unfortunate collisions. At least a few the general public has been informed about. Governments are usually rather sketchy on the details. When they tell us 40 years later.

Not much has changed since the end of the Soviet Union.
 

ScottSoapbox

Posts: 445   +809
To be fair, we said right off the bat that there is no evidence Russia was involved yet and earmarked suggestions that it was as "wild speculation."

EDIT: It's sometimes helpful to read past the subheadline. ;)

Your "own" misses the entire point. If it's "wild speculation" why put it in the sub-headline? And then why end with "However, the current geopolitical crisis created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine raises concerns regarding Kremlin involvement."

The idea that every bad thing that happens is probably Russia's fault is both dumb and tiresome propaganda at this point.
 

Tantor

Posts: 390   +660
Hmmmmm ..... not the sort of thing that a saw fish goes after so I seriously doubt it was an accident of nature, plus the Russians have been known over the years to engage in this sort of activity. Not to point any fingers but I'd sure be looking for any caviar tins or vodka bottles laying around in the area ......

Americans consume way more vodka and caviar than the Russians.

Why would Russia cut internet lines in France?
 

BuckarooBonzaii

Posts: 189   +135
Assumptions are just that and some thrive on assumptions since it is the most obvious until it's wrong and all the accuser can say is Oh...Sorry I was wrong. By then sometimes it is too late.
 
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captaincranky

Posts: 19,283   +8,430
Assumptions is just that and some thrive on assumptions since it is the most obvious until it's wrong and all the accuser can say is Oh...Sorry I was wrong. By then sometimes it is too late.
I have found the easiest way to find something, is to accuse someone of stealing. Note that it doesn't have to be verbal. I can accuse someone of stealing from me, "just by thinking about it", the same way Trump declassifies documents.

More to the point, thus far, Russia has launched troll farms, tried to hack US government networks, and experimented with turning their internet into an "intranet", by cutting it off from outside the country, while maintaining internal communication.

Then the's the Nord Stream pipeline, that, "mysteriously broke", and of course Russia knew nothing about it.

With all the military and intelligence assistance Ukraine is getting from the countries having these "accidents", and also them being associated with NATO, who else would benefit the most by sabotaging international communications, other than Russia?
 

0dium

Posts: 360   +448
Your "own" misses the entire point. If it's "wild speculation" why put it in the sub-headline? And then why end with "However, the current geopolitical crisis created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine raises concerns regarding Kremlin involvement."

The idea that every bad thing that happens is probably Russia's fault is both dumb and tiresome propaganda at this point.
Logically everyone assumes it MIGHT BE Russia's fault. If you have a serial killer in town and somebody gets killed, don't you assume he did it?
 

dangh

Posts: 846   +1,440
Why would Russia cut internet lines in France?
Why would al-Quaeda attack WTC towers? that's what terrorists do, attacking infrastructure, civilians and indirectly increase unrest level and trying to hinder countries operations. Any internal issues in Europe and other NATO countries works for sake of Russia, because they have army of trolls (which can be see even here) trying spin it up to affect people's opinion on the sanctions and support, and trying to increase support for far - right parties in hope that they will be more willing to lick puttler shoes. Thankfully, most right-wing parties are not nazi enough to applaud kreml. Still, we're going to see more and more diversion acts.
 

Geralt

Posts: 1,320   +2,149
Why would al-Quaeda attack WTC towers? that's what terrorists do, attacking infrastructure, civilians and indirectly increase unrest level and trying to hinder countries operations. Any internal issues in Europe and other NATO countries works for sake of Russia, because they have army of trolls (which can be see even here) trying spin it up to affect people's opinion on the sanctions and support, and trying to increase support for far - right parties in hope that they will be more willing to lick puttler shoes. Thankfully, most right-wing parties are not nazi enough to applaud kreml. Still, we're going to see more and more diversion acts.
Russia is a country with participation in the UN. It is not a terrorist group like AlQaeda. And Russia was the main Nazi exterminator in the past. Your post is more propaganda devoid of proof.
 

Irata

Posts: 2,231   +3,893
Your "own" misses the entire point. If it's "wild speculation" why put it in the sub-headline? And then why end with "However, the current geopolitical crisis created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine raises concerns regarding Kremlin involvement."

The idea that every bad thing that happens is probably Russia's fault is both dumb and tiresome propaganda at this point.

Hm…let‘s see - critical infrastructure of Western countries is attacked. Is there perhaps a fascist country with the capabilities that sees itself in a conflict with the West and currently uses attacks on civilians and infrastructure (power, water…) as a standard means of waging ‚conflicts‘….
 

quadibloc

Posts: 383   +252
It's certainly possible that there was coincidental damage by fishing trawlers, but because that is improbable, other possibilities gain weight. There is no reason for, say, China to be cutting those cables, even if its relatiions with the West aren't perfect, but Russia is actively engaged in a war in Ukraine.
The one reason that I have for not yet being positively convinced that it is almost certainly Russia is that this sort of thing doesn't really gain very much for Russia, if anything at all, and it comes with great risks for them. I mean, sure, invading Ukraine in the first place was a stupid idea, but that doesn't mean there are no limits to their stupidity. Underestimating an enemy is always a bad idea.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,940   +6,939
How to cut cables with a submarine? With divers, I guess.
Or a trawler, robotic hand, other implement. IF it was a military sub, the military could build just about anything to make it happen, they are not limited to the standard implements of a piece of equipment. There are subs built specifically to lay, splice, and remove cable too....
Why would al-Quaeda attack WTC towers? that's what terrorists do, attacking infrastructure, civilians and indirectly increase unrest level and trying to hinder countries operations. Any internal issues in Europe and other NATO countries works for sake of Russia, because they have army of trolls (which can be see even here) trying spin it up to affect people's opinion on the sanctions and support, and trying to increase support for far - right parties in hope that they will be more willing to lick puttler shoes. Thankfully, most right-wing parties are not nazi enough to applaud kreml. Still, we're going to see more and more diversion acts.
See, I was with you until you started tumbling into "muh right wing" arguments.
Hm…let‘s see - critical infrastructure of Western countries is attacked. Is there perhaps a fascist country with the capabilities that sees itself in a conflict with the West and currently uses attacks on civilians and infrastructure (power, water…) as a standard means of waging ‚conflicts‘….
Are you trying to insinuate it was russia? Because so far, russian command has proven so inept or incompetent that a east europe mud ball has utterly wrecked it in war. Do you really think the same country that got its supply lines ruined, had it's supply bridge blown up, and has lost most of the territory it gained though sheer incompetence could somehow pull off a coordinated series of cable attacks without being spotted, off the coast of france of all places?

I doubt it.
 

Revolution 11

Posts: 235   +329
Or a trawler, robotic hand, other implement. IF it was a military sub, the military could build just about anything to make it happen, they are not limited to the standard implements of a piece of equipment. There are subs built specifically to lay, splice, and remove cable too....
See, I was with you until you started tumbling into "muh right wing" arguments.
Are you trying to insinuate it was russia? Because so far, russian command has proven so inept or incompetent that a east europe mud ball has utterly wrecked it in war. Do you really think the same country that got its supply lines ruined, had it's supply bridge blown up, and has lost most of the territory it gained though sheer incompetence could somehow pull off a coordinated series of cable attacks without being spotted, off the coast of france of all places?

I doubt it.
The idea of different areas of competence does exist, you know.

The Nazis had a very capable submarine force in British waters even as their air force fell apart over Britain. The Soviets had good space launch capability and heavy industrial ability even as their microprocessor industry failed to materialize.

In this case, you are targeting a static target that is almost never explicitly protected by naval assets in an environment where the fog of the war effect dominates all considerations. All you have to do is tell each other before the operation that the target (the cables) will be cut at a specific time and date with enough time beforehand to allow guard banding for unforeseen events.

It is not that hard for an enemy navy to target undersea cables in a coordinated attack.
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,594   +2,951
Are you trying to insinuate it was russia? Because so far, russian command has proven so inept or incompetent that a east europe mud ball has utterly wrecked it in war. Do you really think the same country that got its supply lines ruined, had it's supply bridge blown up, and has lost most of the territory it gained though sheer incompetence could somehow pull off a coordinated series of cable attacks without being spotted, off the coast of france of all places?

I doubt it.
I'm not claiming at all it was Russia, but I would like to point out their submarine service is probably more competent than their army.

Only in general terms mind you, they are regarded better and funded better as per the estimations of NATO nations. Now the validity of that is questionable because much like the war undertaken now you only see how good something is when it's in action.

Russian emphasis on their submarine capabilities has increased a great deal since the disastrous 1990s and early 2000s. The Kursk sinking led to apparent reform, and they still held onto important capabilities.

It is likely they have quite a bit of experience with covert operations and communications cables. The USA created these types of operations and directed them at the Soviets in the 1970s. Operation Ivy Bells was a daring wiretap on an undersea Soviet cable. All documented in an incredible book called Blind Man's Bluff. The Soviets found out about it due to traitors, themselves realizing what a great idea it all was. That's where it likely started for them. It is a safe bet they retain similar capabilities today, especially considering the digital age we live in.