Cyber security of sea cables

I was listening an interesting presentation on monday at Helsinki on cyber security of under sea fiber optics cabling. The end result was that it is possible (not always easy or cheap, but technically possible for many countries) and often not illegal on international sea to listen to the traffic on those cables.

There are around 400 undersea fiber optic cables that carry around 95 percent international telecom traffic and China has something to do with around 100 of them (technology and/or construction work).

It is also not technically or economically feasible to make those impossible to listening to, so we need to use good end-to-end encryption on our networked applications.

News article what I heard and saw (in Finnish)
https://www.uusiteknologia.fi/2019/05/02/kuituverkkojakin-voidaan-salakuunnella-vahva-salaus-tarpeen/

Arc­tic Con­nect Pro­ject and Cy­ber Secu­ri­ty Cont­rol, ARCY publication (in English)
https://www.jyu.fi/it/fi/tutkimus/julkaisut/it-julkaisut/arctic-connect-project_verkkoversio-final.pdf

20 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Cable That United The World
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nV0Wc9Y33so

    The dawn of instant global communication can be traced back to entrepreneur Cyrus West Field and his long-shot experiment to link the United States and Europe by telegraph in the 1850s.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/05/07/security_roundup/
    ‘Hamas hackers’ bombed: Israeli Defence Forces claim they destroyed a building in the Gaza Strip on Saturday said to be used by Hamas hackers. The Palestinian militants were targeted in the air strike in response to cyber-attacks against Israel, the IDF said in a tweet: “We thwarted an attempted Hamas cyber offensive against Israeli targets. Following our successful cyber defensive operation, we targeted a building where the Hamas cyber operatives work. HamasCyberHQ.exe has been removed.”

    IDF says it thwarted a Hamas cyber attack during weekend battle
    https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-says-it-thwarted-a-hamas-cyber-attack-during-weekend-battle/

    In addition to fighting digital threat, Israeli Air Force also bombs headquarters of terror group’s technology division in Gaza

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mozilla releases Firefox 66.0.4 with fix disabled add-ons issue
    https://www.zdnet.com/article/mozilla-releases-firefox-66-0-4-with-fix-disabled-add-ons-issue/#modal-absolute-59b54168-f02d-45bf-a2ce-d15dd114fb41

    Mozilla rolls out permanent fix for “disabled add-ons” issue after releasing a temporary patch a day before.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Malvertiser behind 100+ million bad ads arrested and extradited to the US
    https://www.zdnet.com/article/malvertiser-behind-100-million-bad-ads-arrested-and-extradited-to-the-us/

    Ukrainian man behind slew of fake companies that delivered malicious ads on legitimate sites.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    In a first, Israel responds to Hamas hackers with an air strike
    https://www.zdnet.com/article/in-a-first-israel-responds-to-hamas-hackers-with-an-air-strike/

    Israel military said it bombed building housing Hamas cyber forces.

    For the first time, Israel has used brute military force to respond to a Hamas cyberattack, three years after NATO proclaimed “cyber” an official battlefield in modern warfare.

    The “bomb-back” response took place on Saturday when Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched an air strike against a building in the Gaza Strip. They claimed it housed Hamas cyber operatives, which had been engaging in a cyberattack against Israel’s “cyberspace.”

    We were ahead of them all the time,” said Brigadier General D., the head of the IDF’s cyber defense division. “The moment they tried to do something, they failed.”

    Israeli officials did not disclose any details about the Hamas cyberattack; however, they said they first stopped the attack online, and only then responded with an air strike.

    US did it first

    Israel’s response to the Hamas’ attempted cyberattack is a turning point in modern warfare, where military action was chosen instead of a typical “hack-back” response.

    In 2015, the US became the first country to respond with military force to cyberattacks, when it used a drone strike to kill Junaid Hussain, a British citizen who was in charge of ISIL’s hacker groups, and who was responsible for dumping personal details of US military forces online, via Twitter.

    NATO Declares Cyber an Official Warfare Battleground, Next to Air, Sea and Land
    A cyber-attack may now trigger a full military response
    https://news.softpedia.com/news/nato-declares-cyber-as-official-battleground-next-to-air-sea-and-land-505388.shtml

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch:
    Microsoft announces ElectionGuard, an open source platform for securely handling voting data, available this summer with a pilot during the 2020 elections — When it comes to voting, we’ve come a long way from dropping pebbles into an amphora, but still not nearly far enough …

    Microsoft aims to modernize and secure voting with ElectionGuard
    https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/06/microsoft-aims-to-modernize-and-secure-voting-with-electionguard/

    When it comes to voting, we’ve come a long way from dropping pebbles into an amphora — but still not nearly far enough if the lack of confidence in our election systems is any indication. Microsoft is the first major tech company to take on this problem with a new platform it calls ElectionGuard that promises to make elections more secure and transparent — and yes, it’s free and open source.

    Set to be made available this summer and piloted during the 2020 elections, ElectionGuard is not a complete voting machine, but rather a platform for handling voting data that can either empower existing systems or have new ones built on top of it.

    The basic idea is to let voters track their votes securely and privately, while also allowing authorities to tabulate, store and, if necessary, audit them.

    Protecting democratic elections through secure, verifiable voting
    https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2019/05/06/protecting-democratic-elections-through-secure-verifiable-voting/

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Israel Neutralizes Cyber Attack by Blowing Up A Building With Hackers
    https://thehackernews.com/2019/05/israel-hamas-hacker-airstrikes.html

    The Israel Defense Force (IDF) claims to have neutralized an “attempted” cyber attack by launching airstrikes on a building in Gaza Strip from where it says the attack was originated.

    As shown in a video tweeted by IDF, the building in the Gaza Strip, which Israeli fighter drones have now destroyed, was reportedly the headquarters for Palestinian Hamas military intelligence, from where a cyber unit of hackers was allegedly trying to penetrate Israel’s cyberspace.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Submarine Cables – Construction, Characteristics, Cables Laying & Joints
    https://www.electricaltechnology.org/2018/02/submarine-cables-subsea-power-cables.html

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Jonathan Hillman / Axios:
    Trump’s actions against Huawei limit its 5G tech in US, but Huawei continues to build or improve ~100 undersea cables; ~380 cables carry most international data — President Trump’s executive order and the Commerce De

    Trump may stop Huawei in U.S., but the underseas cable race continues
    https://www.axios.com/trump-may-stop-huawei-in-us-but-underseas-cable-race-continues-e37e93ca-95a1-49ba-bb24-902db682dd26.html

    Why it matters: Globally, about 380 submarine cables carry the vast majority of international data, from cloud computing to text messaging. These cables will only become more important with the arrival of 5G and other services that will increase the speed and volume of data being transferred.

    Flashback: History cautions that today’s commercial activities carry strategic stakes as well. In World War I, Britain was best positioned to maintain global communications among its forces and to monitor and disrupt enemy messages thanks to its network of cables.

    The bottom line: So far, U.S. actions are focused on limiting Huawei’s access to Western markets. But to shape tomorrow’s communications networks, it would also have to compete in developing and emerging markets — especially in Asia and Africa, where 90% of global population growth by 2050 is expected.

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google’s Indigo subsea cable is now online
    https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/30/googles-indigo-subsea-cable-is-now-online/

    Google and its partners today announced that the 5,600-mile Indigo subsea cable, which connects Sydney and Perth with Jakarta and Singapore, is now ready for service. To build the cable, which will significantly strengthen the connectivity between Australia and Southeast Asia, Google partnered with AARnet, Indosat, Singtel, SubPartners and Telstra.

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Melting Arctic Ice Opens a New Fiber Optic Cable Route
    https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/internet/melting-sea-ice-opens-the-floodgate-for-a-new-fiber-optic-cable-route

    Helsinki-based Cinia, which owns and operates about 15,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable, and MegaFon, a Russian telecommunications operator, signed a memorandum of understanding to lay a fiber optic cable across the Arctic Ocean.

    Ari-Jussi Knaapila, the CEO of Cinia, estimates that the planned Arctic cable, which would stretch from London to Alaska, would shorten the physical cable distance between Europe and the western coast of North America by 20 to 30 percent.

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables
    https://futurism.com/russian-sub-fire-internet-cables

    On Monday, a Russian submarine caught fire during a mission, killing 14 sailors on board.

    A possible reason for Russia’s caginess? Multiple sources are now claiming the sub was an AS-12 “Losharik,” a nuclear-powered submarine some speculate was designed to cut the undersea cables that deliver internet to the world.

    For years, they’ve warned that Russia has been surveying undersea cables, and experts have called out the Losharik by name as possibly playing a role in future missions to disrupt those cables.

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Russian media outlet RBC cited an unnamed military source as saying the submarine was an AS-12, which is powered by a nuclear reactor and designed to carry out special operations at extreme depths.
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-submersible-incident/russia-accused-of-cover-up-over-lethal-submarine-fire-idUSKCN1TY1D0

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables
    https://futurism.com/russian-sub-fire-internet-cables

    On Monday, a Russian submarine caught fire during a mission, killing 14 sailors on board.

    A possible reason for Russia’s caginess? Multiple sources are now claiming the sub was an AS-12 “Losharik,” a nuclear-powered submarine some speculate was designed to cut the undersea cables that deliver internet to the world.

    Russian media outlets RBC and Novaya Gazeta have both cited anonymous sources who claim the submarine was a Losharik, and while the sub has been in operation since 2003, Russia has never come out and declared its official purpose.

    For years, they’ve warned that Russia has been surveying undersea cables, and experts have called out the Losharik by name as possibly playing a role in future missions to disrupt those cables.

    Reply
  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google’s Next Subsea Internet Cable to Connect Africa and Europe

    https://futurism.com/the-byte/google-internet-cable-africa-europe

    Reply
  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Both the U.S. and Russia Are Stalking the World’s Undersea Cables
    https://interestingengineering.com/both-the-us-and-russia-are-stalking-the-worlds-undersea-cables

    The U.S. and Russian submarines are playing a game of cat and mouse above the undersea cables that carry the world’s telecommunications and Internet data.

    Reply
  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Suspected Internet Cable Spy Ship Operating In Americas For Over A Month
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/hisutton/2019/12/01/suspected-internet-cable-spy-ship-operating-in-americas/

    Russia’s controversial intelligence ship Yantar has been operating in the Caribbean, or mid-Atlantic, since October. She is suspected by Western navies of being involved in operations on undersea communications cables. Significantly, she appears to be avoiding broadcasting her position via AIS (Automated Identification System).

    Yantar has been observed conducting search patterns in the vicinity of internet cables, and there is circumstantial evidence that she has been responsible for internet outages, for example off the Syrian coast in 2016.

    Reply
  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    It is recommended to use end-to-end encryption as it is the only solution to guarantee security in international network.

    Reply
  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Forget Nuclear Weapons, Cutting Undersea Cables Could Decisively End A War
    https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/forget-nuclear-weapons-cutting-undersea-cables-could-decisively-end-war-108651

    Our modern economy could collapse.

    Our world’s reliance on the internet has only grown with time.

    When a July 2015 undersea tremor triggered a rockslide between the islands of Saipan and Tinian in the Northern Marianas Islands, it cut the only fiber-optic cable connecting the archipelago to the global network. Air traffic control grounded flights, automated teller machines shut down, web and phone connections broke.

    One of America’s greatest techno-spy capers of the Cold War involved tapping Soviet Navy communications via a submarine cable in the 1970s and 1980s. Before IVY BELLS ended with its unmasking by Soviet spy Ronald Pelton, its clandestine aquanauts, spy sub and nuclear-powered “bug” made espionage history.

    Cut up undersea hydrophone networks and you deafen your adversary. Cut Internet cables and you have the ultimate denial-of-service cyber weapon.

    Reply

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