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Crime AT&T The Almighty Buck The Internet

AT&T Offers $250k Reward To Find the California Fiber-Optic Ripper 145

An anonymous reader writes: AT&T have offered a $250,000 reward to anyone providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of what appears to be a serial disruptor of fiber-optic connections in California. The latest incident has taken place in Livermore in the San Francisco Bay Area, where an individual thought by the FBI to possess expert knowledge and specialist tools severed a critical AT&T cable, gaining access to the enclosure via a manhole. The attack precedes 11 previous ones in California in the preceding twelve months.
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AT&T Offers $250k Reward To Find the California Fiber-Optic Ripper

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  • by known_coward_69 ( 4151743 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @04:06PM (#50535435)
    death penalty
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Like me coming into your house and cutting the wires to your entertainment system. Or filling your gas tank with pudding.

      • filling your gas tank with pudding.

        I think the punishment for that is death by baloonga in most jurisdictions.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      KILL! KILL! KILL! :P

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Every adventurer's career has to begin somewhere. Why not have it be through tracking down a fugitive in the obligatory sewer level?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @04:09PM (#50535459)

    Since AT&T was obviously not using those fiber lines properly to begin with.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @04:09PM (#50535461)

    No, "The attack is preceded by 11 previous ones", not precedes them!

    • precedes 11 previous ones in California in the preceding twelve months.

      No grammar nerding needed, that sentence should annoy anyone with a basic understanding of English.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        The preceder of the preceding post set a precedent for correcting the preceding summary summarizing how the preceding article has been repeating the repeated article for the preceding 12 months repeatedly.
    • They're never going to find the guy, he's a time traveler. He cut this line, then went back in time and did it 11 more times previously!
      • His "specialist tools" are a manhole-lifting tool, and an Einstein-Rosenberg wormhole time machine.
    • The attack precedes 11 previous ones in California in the preceding twelve months.

      FBI is looking for someone with detailed technical knowledge of critical telecommunications infrastructure, and a time machine. That should narrow the search a bit.

  • I know who did it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Coren22 ( 1625475 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @04:11PM (#50535479) Journal

    Just take a look through the list of people laid off by AT&T in the past year.

    • by dysmal ( 3361085 )
      Or the people they've forced to quit.
      • Or the people they have overcharged and cheated. They could, of course, stop cheating and gouging people, but the $250k reward is small potatoes compared to what they overcharge people each year with their monopoly powers.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Also, I have a feeling his name is "Jack". Or maybe that's just a nickname....

    • Aha, you beat me to this!
    • by nnull ( 1148259 )
      The funny thing is, most people won't even notice or care, especially when the guy has a safety vest and hardhat on, they'll just think it's a worker. Hell, even the employees who work there won't even notice because they don't care anymore.
  • by mschaffer ( 97223 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @04:15PM (#50535527)

    Personally, I am a bit disappointed that the reward wasn't 256k.

    • 250K ought be be enough for anybody.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Blame those IEC kibibyte nazis.

      Kilobyte = 1024 bytes. JEDEC standard. Anything else is just trying to stiff you out of an ever increasing percentage.

    • by dfsmith ( 960400 )

      Personally, I am a bit disappointed that the reward wasn't 256k.

      AT&T's rewards are on the "unlimited dollar" plan, and it got throttled.

  • I know I know! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Krishnoid ( 984597 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @04:22PM (#50535569) Journal

    It's these guys! [slashdot.org] Can I have my money now?

  • Critical Cable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @04:27PM (#50535621) Homepage Journal

    There shouldn't be critical cables. There should be redundant paths to make the network tolerant to any individual cut.

    • Re:Critical Cable? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @04:41PM (#50535731)

      Redundancy does not preclude criticality. In the end no network is infinite so if you keep cutting cables eventually it will do down, but irrespective with every cut connection performance will degrade.

      • but irrespective with every cut connection performance will degrade.

        Obviously, there should be enough redundancy to provide service (to most customers, at least) even if multiple links are cut.

        OK, it costs money. Let's stop letting the execs take home big fat bonuses, and let's make the corps spend the money on infrastructure, or let's take away their monopolies on the right-of-way and let someone else do it better. I don't really care which way we fix it, but let's fix it and stop protecting mediocrity.

        • Re:Critical Cable? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @06:36PM (#50536717)

          I'm not in the US so I don't know what your fibre service failure levels are like.....

          But what level of redundancy is required and is reasonable? Major backhaul sub-surface cables are rarely cut but when they are it is usually because someone hit them with a digger. In this case you need geographic redundancy to avoid having your redundant cable cut. So you run a second back haul cable in the opposite direction giving you 100% redundancy should either cable get cut. The odds that both cables get severed at the same time is vanishingly small, so is a third cable reasonable to build?

          You get way more major failures due to software or in data centres where someone kicks out the wrong plug then you do from the physical fibre in the ground.

          Also I would be surprised if any executive bonuses came close to the cost of a fibre run. The monopoly thing is a whole different story and I don't believe it should exist.

          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Not until you run them through the same conduit through the same bridge. All because you took different contracts with different ISP's for redundancy, but their upstream suppliers both used the same long-haul carrier for their fiber-optic link.

    • Re:Critical Cable? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Shatrat ( 855151 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:02PM (#50535917)

      I think that's the point. This guy knows the fiber paths and goes around cutting both sides of the ring. Even if all traffic is protected it costs tens of thousands of dollars to do emergency repair work on a fiber cable.

      Also, diversity is typically only used from office to office. From the office out to the environmental cabinets and pedestals and so forth servicing individual customers there's typically a single fiber path.

    • by schnell ( 163007 )

      There shouldn't be critical cables. There should be redundant paths to make the network tolerant to any individual cut.

      There should also be a magic money tree to pay for all the digging and trenching, and the expensive rights of way to make sure that the East Dead Cowskull, Texas, Central Office has redundant fiber in the middle of the Panhandle.

      Oh wait, there is a magic money tree! It's your phone or Internet bill! Because if any of the major fiber/ISP/cable/whatevers built 100% physically diverse networks, that's where the money would come from. Unless it came from taxpayers, which is even worse.

    • There shouldn't be critical cables. There should be redundant paths to make the network tolerant to any individual cut.

      They ARE redundant. They're typically arranged in rings. You have to cut them in TWO places, one on each side of the area you want to darken, to cause the failure.

      When the first one is cut the traffic switches to alternate routing in milliseconds. (Typically: The other way around the ring.) It's when the second cut is made that the failure occurs.

      Unfortunately, it takes a lot longer to

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @04:32PM (#50535659) Homepage
    As a californian, 250k might not seem like a lot, but with that kind of cash you could afford to water the lawn AND take a shower after!
  • Cutting communications lines is a particularly difficult type of terror attack to prevent. Anyone who has ever worked around vital communication lines knows where they are and breaking those lines can be quite easy. Catching such a person may take quite some time and expense. Let's hope this is not the scheme of some foreign enemy.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @05:04PM (#50535945)

      Can we maybe stop referring to every fucking criminal act out there as a "terror attack?" It's childish and stupid. It's the same mentality that got the front page story of the day on practically every website, a non-white kid in a US school builds a clock and brings it to school to show to his teachers. They arrest him and attempt to have him charged. People like you are DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for this. Your irrational fear of "terrorists" has gotten the better of you, mentally and as a society as a whole.

      "Let's home this is not the scheme of some foreign enemy," fuck's sake...grow the fuck up you racist cocksucker.

      • I have it on good authority that a group of terrorists is actively trying to discourage our children from building neat things. If you do, this group of terrorists is threatening to kidnap anyone who defies them and demand a ransom, or in their language, "bail". This terrorist group appears to be operating with impunity, any leads as to who was responsible would be appreciated.

      • Can we maybe stop referring to every fucking criminal act out there as a "terror attack?" It's childish and stupid.

        You'll shut me down with a push of your button?
        But I'm out and I'm gone
        I'll tell you now I keep it on and on
        'Cause what you see you might not get
        And we can bet so don't you get souped yet
        You're scheming on a thing that's a mirage
        I'm trying to tell you now it's sabotage
        Why; our backs are now against the wall
        Listen all of y'all it's a sabotage
        Listen all of y'all it's a sabotage
        Listen all of y'all

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Cutting communications lines is a particularly difficult type of terror attack to prevent. Anyone who has ever worked around vital communication lines knows where they are and breaking those lines can be quite easy. Catching such a person may take quite some time and expense. Let's hope this is not the scheme of some foreign enemy.

      Terrorism, as in "violence or threats of violence used for intimidation or coercion"? I'm afraid it fails both the first and second part. While sabotage seems to be spot on, "the deliberate destruction, disruption, or damage of equipment, a public service, etc, as by enemy agents, dissatisfied employees, etc"

  • That 250,000 tax free? shirt, if they tax it at 33% plus local tax fees/wage taxes/city tax/amusement tax. The Government has to get a piece of the pie too.
  • Maybe those layoffs weren't such a cost-saver after all!
  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2015 @04:45PM (#50535775) Journal
    Seriously? Find a pole marked in orange (or in this case, manhole). Take the bolt-cutters to the only armored cable on the pole / in the hole. Make sure to repeat at least a few feet away to make it virtually impossible to splice cleanly.

    This doesn't take "expert knowledge and specialist tools", any moron could do it.

    Now, doing it without blinding yourself with a 40W IR laser beam...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I know one of the guys who installed most of the fiber in this area, and I also know Ham radio operators (who are very conscious about communications), and their independent conclusions are that "someone" is testing the fiber paths for redundancy in planning for a widespread fiber attack at some future point in time.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah sure. The HAM-fisters always claim that their "emergency communications capability" is as important as the water supply.

      Like NSA saying there are so many terroristos and they need more billions for more computers and consultants.

      Or like Pfizer telling you how sick you really are and need preventative medication or something to the effect.

  • Dear sd your app is broken . I should be able to override my comment filtering options by tapping on a comment

  • I meant your mobile site. It's almost as hopeless as me

  • I know how I could generate work for myself. Just sayin. OK I confess it was me.
  • Ahmed (Score:1, Troll)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

    Did anyone talk to the kid who got arrested for bringing a digital clock/suitcase nuke into a Texas school? I mean, clearly he's a troublemaker and has the extremely advanced technical skills to be able to access a manhole Mission Impossible-style and sever fiber-optic cables with his mind.

    I'm not saying, I'm just saying, you know?

  • For that much money I'd cut some lines and then turn myself in!

  • "The attack precedes 11 previous ones in California in the preceding twelve months."

    What does the attack precede?

  • Could AT&T have used that money to filter MMS messages carrying Android malware devivered via StageFright? If so, then who at AT&T made the decision to abandon their paying customers in favor of protecting their (gl)ass?
  • I wonder if this sort of thing is getting more common. We've been seeing a lot of fiber breaks, attributed variously to "rodent chew," "car striking utility pole," and "wind damage," but all in a relatively small area for one set of connections, and I've heard of similar coincidental clusters of breaks in other areas. Nobody wants the bad press of admitting to sabotage, and unless its something obvious like a cut armored cable, its easy to attribute it to some random accident. Or I could just be paranoid, b
  • "We don't care, we don't have to...we're the phone company." -- Ernestine (Lily Tomlin)

    Another NSA related video from Laugh-In [youtube.com] from about 1970.

  • Tracking this guy down could make a cool numbers episode.
  • Just set up a security camera and catch them in the act.
  • AT&T Offers $250k Reward To Find the California Fiber-Optic Ripper

    His name is Jack... Jack the Ripper.

  • The latest incident... precedes 11 previous ones... in the preceding twelve months.

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • "The attack precedes 11 previous ones..."

    So, wow, we may have much more to worry about after this time-traveling alien has finished probing the weaknesses in our infrastructure.

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