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Russian Submarines are 'Prowling Around' Undersea Internet Cables (thehill.com) 175

An anonymous reader quotes The Hill: Russian submarine activity around undersea cables that provide internet and other communications connections to North America and Europe has raised concerns among NATO officials, according to The Washington Post. NATO officials say an unprecedented amount of Russian deep-sea activity, especially around undersea internet lines, constitutes a newfound "vulnerability" for NATO nations. "We are now seeing Russian underwater activity in the vicinity of undersea cables that I don't believe we have ever seen," said NATO submarine forces commander and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Andrew Lennon. "Russia is clearly taking an interest in NATO and NATO nations' undersea infrastructure."
"The Russian Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment about the cables," reports the Washington Post, adding that "prowling around" the cables "could give the Kremlin the power to sever or tap into vital data lines, officials said."

They cite the commander of NATO's submarine forces, who says "We know that these auxiliary submarines are designed to work on the ocean floor, and they're transported by the mother ship, and we believe they may be equipped to manipulate objects on the ocean floor."
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Russian Submarines are 'Prowling Around' Undersea Internet Cables

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 23, 2017 @07:12PM (#55797869)
    Man, they've really been kicking sand in our faces lately. It's somewhat embarassing.
    • There's not much cool about being a repressive regime with a struggling economy and rampant corruption.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Really? Look at their mortality rate. They aren't cool.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Russia hunts terrorists and removes their bases and support structures. A very simple mission that everyone can support and understand.

      The USA is doing regime change, supporting color revolutions globally.
      So the USA has to create, support and supply "freedom fighters" all around the world.
      That gets difficult to spin as been good news.
      Faith based groups funded and supported by the USA trying to take over normal governments who do not want to fall to US backed faith based insurgents.

      Russia has on
    • The concern is what? The Russians might interfere with NSA monitoring gear installed on the cables?

      Why the folks in Washington, London, Brussels, and Bonn are determined to make enemies out of Russia, Iran, and -- if possible -- China eludes me. (North Korea is perhaps a somewhat different case as Kim Jong-un may actually be crazier than Trump -- assuming that to be possible). As Rodney King once said, "Can't we all just get along?"

      Anyway, IMO the chances of worldwide digital communications remaining up

  • by TigerPlish ( 174064 ) on Saturday December 23, 2017 @07:20PM (#55797891)

    The US used to (still does, I bet) tap Russian cables. Turnabout is fair play?

    Read "Blind Man's Bluff" for stories of us playing all sorts of crazy sub games against the Russians.

    Kinda feels like we've got a new Cold War, don't it? Only now it's an Information / Data / Commerce thing, not a Nukes thing.

    • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Saturday December 23, 2017 @07:27PM (#55797915)
      Do unto others as you forbade them doing unto you!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Turnabout is fair play?

      There is no "fair." Grow up please.

    • The Russians are probably trying to trace how/where the USA taps undersea cables. Following those taps would tell them where the American intelligence bases are located around the world, and help them develop countermeasures against anyone tapping their cables.
    • More concerning (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Saturday December 23, 2017 @07:43PM (#55797975) Homepage Journal

      The US used to (still does, I bet) tap Russian cables. Turnabout is fair play?

      Read "Blind Man's Bluff" for stories of us playing all sorts of crazy sub games against the Russians.

      Kinda feels like we've got a new Cold War, don't it? Only now it's an Information / Data / Commerce thing, not a Nukes thing.

      A more concerning question is: Have they installed cable severing devices that can be remotely triggered? I suppose a remotely-triggered bomb would be easy enough, but it might be something more sophisticated, such as a method to turn off a repeater and then turn it back on again later.

      If we ever get into a war with a country that has submarines (or Disney, for that matter), expect intercontinental internet and phone service to be gone for the duration.

      This would be a crippling economic tactic, so long as the US would suffer more than the country at war. For most countries it would be a net win for them.

      I can't think of any realistic way to protect this asset, either.

      Maybe satellite internet (per previous Slashdot article) isn't such a bad idea?

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        A more concerning question is: Have they installed cable severing devices that can be remotely triggered? I suppose a remotely-triggered bomb would be easy enough, but it might be something more sophisticated,

        Well..... we should help our carriers inspect our cables, and if anyone's installed such a device, then that in itself is an act of war and must be met with sanctions against the country responsible.

        In fact.... we really should NOT tolerate foreign nations poking about with ANY craft on the ocea

      • Maybe satellite internet (per previous Slashdot article) isn't such a bad idea?

        It is, right up until they start shooting down each others satellites. On the bright side though, whoever finds an economic way to clean up massive amounts of orbital debris stands to make a killing once the shooting stops.

    • The US used to (still does, I bet) tap Russian cables.

      No, former US President Jimmy Carter is NOT tapping undersea cables . . . he is building new houses for poor folks.

      Well, he does plant a few bugs in the homes . . . might as well do that while the studs are still bare.

      Oh, and I guess Carter does a wee bit of cable tapping: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      But we're the good guys, so tapping is OK for us to do.

    • Does the word 'escalation' mean anything to you?
    • The US used to (still does, I bet) tap Russian cables. Turnabout is fair play?

      Read "Blind Man's Bluff" for stories of us playing all sorts of crazy sub games against the Russians.

      Kinda feels like we've got a new Cold War, don't it? Only now it's an Information / Data / Commerce thing, not a Nukes thing.

      Besides, this activity has been vetted and approved by the Republican party. It's part of th eparty platfoem now.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Saturday December 23, 2017 @09:37PM (#55798341) Journal
      The West likes to think nobody can recall Ivy Bells.
      That was within territorial waters and off limits to foreign vessels.
      Operation Ivy Bells https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    • by mikeiver1 ( 1630021 ) on Sunday December 24, 2017 @12:00AM (#55798703)
      Was going to bring up just this same thing... We tapped the undersea cable in the sea of Okhotsk in the early 70s, operation Ivy bells was the name of it. So they are sniffing around the cables? Big whoopy. The fact is that they can monitor/ interrupt data just fine by compromising the network infrastructure that the internet runs on. I suspect that they are looking at the easiest locations to sever the cables in a time of war. Remember that the Chinese are also out there in the cyber war arena as well. Throw in the North Koreans and the Iranians and the environment is pretty grim. The fact is that they are all facing the American industrial and military as targets of their cyber efforts to even the technological fields and to be ready for possible disruption. We are good but they are many. That and we train them in our schools and then send them home...
    • Indeed, the Jimmy Carter submarine is believed to be specialized in that task. Of course, all of that outrage is fake - it is just part of the international game. For both parties, it just makes encryption even more worthwhile.
    • The US used to (still does, I bet) tap Russian cables. Turnabout is fair play?

      Nope, this is geopolitics, not a game.

      Kinda feels like we've got a new Cold War, don't it

      Yup, and just like any war, I want my side to win. (Also, not commit war crimes. But short of that, all is supposed to be fair.)

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        Geopolitics by definition is a game.

        Just because stakes are high doesn't make it any less of one.

        • Just because it has multiple competing actors doesn't make it a game. There is no universal set of rules (with the exception of the war crimes mentioned earlier) that govern how nation-states act, and certainly no referee to appeal to. It's a competition, but not agame because a game is better organized, has clear win conditions, etc.

    • The US used to (still does, I bet) tap Russian cables. Turnabout is fair play?

      Read "Blind Man's Bluff" for stories of us playing all sorts of crazy sub games against the Russians.

      Kinda feels like we've got a new Cold War, don't it? Only now it's an Information / Data / Commerce thing, not a Nukes thing.

      And the Russians spied on the US, got a hold of US naval cipher machines, decoded US naval signals traffic into the 1980s, stole all kids of other military information and industrial trade secrets, compromised and blackmailed politicians, the list goes on. It's not as if the Russians were somehow unfairly victimised and that we should let them tap our signals traffic wholesale to make up for our past unfair transgressions against poor mother Russia because there weren't any. I say chase these subs off, if t

    • Thanks to Mr. Snowden, the US programs that do this are Tempora, Oakstar, Stormbrew, Blarney, and Fairview.

      "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Matthew 7:5

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      The Soviets screwed up by assuming that cables at the bottom of the ocean couldn't be tapped. It's now public knowledge that they can be tapped. So tapping data lines does them no good unless they can break encryption that is routinely used these days.

      So looking at exploit scenarios, there's two that stand out. The first is that Russia discovers (or plants) a weakness in some commonly used crypto software, and then quietly uses that with their taps. The second is that they simply disrupt communications

    • They have. As soon as somebody figured out you could use submarines to do this to underwater cables and not get noticed doing it, both sides started from the early telegraph lines, to phone lines, to internet. Everybody who can spies on everybody else, even their friends. Remember the old Russian saying, "Trust, but verify."
  • How is this news? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 )

    I'm astonished: either the news-makers are amazingly stupid (the US has more or less openly discussed their task-specific subs capable of tapping such cables for twenty years...which means they've been able to do it for at least thirty), or this is another mendacious effort to paint the Russians as some sort of special bogeyman (they're still our primary strategic competitor, as they have been more or less for decades even after the cold war...an idea the previous president openly mocked, I'll remind everyo

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Wow!!! You must be getting all the memos. Could you please publish your sources so we can all believe the same thing?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Everyday slashdot has to get its "Russia" story pushed out.
      Today its about submarines.
    • It's worth listening to if you're concerned with how Cold War II is playing out, which is among the most important geo-political developments of the 7 to 10 years. What would be ignorant is if you choose to ignore what's going on in the world.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fafalone ( 633739 )
      It's because it's righteous and just when we do something, but evil when Russia does the same thing. Come on, everyone knows that.

      I don't believe for one minute that the NSA doesn't have every major undersea cable tapped.
  • by no-body ( 127863 ) on Saturday December 23, 2017 @07:39PM (#55797965)

    towards well, your guess as good as mine..

    Fact is that nervousness is increasing with all the little acts some "not so smart" people are undertaking.

    How did wars start? Some event, be it a shot or some other rocket started, when the exciting level is pushed up and the spark ignites.
    Are people learning from the past, looking at the current actors, definitely no. All feeding their own insanity and the millions either seduced by emotional excitement or staying remote in disgust are suffering from those the games those jerks play.

    Truly amazing that this nonsense still happens.

    System failure, reset & reboot, but on what hardware???

  • by willy_me ( 212994 ) on Saturday December 23, 2017 @08:10PM (#55798041)

    You can bet that there will be explosives placed in various locations under the main internet communication links. Should it be required, a remote detonation signal could be sent and then say goodby to the internet. I suppose if they were going to go that far then they would also disable / destroy any satellites. Europe and the US would have almost all communications cut - good luck responding to a Russian threat in a timely manner.

    This is all theoretical but if I were Russia, I would do it. Much easier then tapping into cables and there would be no way to find said explosives.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      Not sure if you knew but the Internet is designed to route around damage. There are plenty of lines running between the US and Russian-controlled waters, what would blowing one up accomplish?

      Even if they managed to take out everything in the Atlantic, there would still be capacity via satellite, radio and Pacific links. The only "use" of this exercise would be to tap traffic, but then what idiot throws about valuable data unencrypted on the Internet. Additionally, if they managed to tap a line, then they wo

      • All Internet connection would not have to be severed - all it would take is the majority of underwater cables being severed at the same time. Such an event would cause sufficient gridlock to make the Internet useless. The "self healing" nature of the Internet can barely correct for accidents - let alone deliberate sabotage. That is why I described a scenario involving explosives triggered by a remote signal. Sending underwater transmissions is difficult. There are severe bandwidth limitations with hug

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          Such an event would cause sufficient gridlock to make the Internet useless.

          No.... the internet would continue to function in the US, but it could create many network partitions, and communications between the US and other countries would be harder and slower.

          • Or they sever all connections that don't route through Russian controlled nodes, where traffic can be "Changed" or deleted as required. Our internet still works, but we can't see the pictures of Russian tanks invading Germany.
            • by mysidia ( 191772 )

              Our internet still works, but we can't see the pictures of Russian tanks invading Germany.

              If Russian tanks invade germany, then there are channels of communication such as HF Radio stations and Satellite which do not rely on the internet.

            • Do the links from Germany to France & Britain go through Russia? Sounds pretty unlikely to me.

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          No, communication would be slower and it would be "useless" only to consumers that want instant load times but we used to have network links that were much, much slower, more fragile and had more packet loss.

          I can communicate with Japan at gigabit rates these days, anyone remember Sourceforge Japan, that site had an effective bandwidth of a 56k modem here in the US, it still worked though for the rare occasion you needed something from it.

    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday December 23, 2017 @11:40PM (#55798641)

      How would they troll Facebook if they cut the cables?

    • I suspect that we know just where they are working around the cables... Ever hear of hydrophone strings? Locating the devices would not be to hard. We are all racing towards quantum entangled communications, the Chinese especially. This will render brute force attacks on the physical links between Europe and the US of minimal value at best. I give it 10-20 years before they are them. None of the countries want any major war, it is easier to hose the people with banks, insurance companies, and shitty b
    • If you were Russia, the reason your subs are 'sniffing around' is just to make sure all those charges are still good after their 10th or 20th year maintenance check.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Imagine the disruption to a future Bitcoin Economy if international communication links could not be maintained. Ha!

  • isnt that what your supposed to do to submarines that dont mind their own business?
  • Russia have already been 'the enemy' within living memory. You're supposed to choose a new one to keep people guessing. Doh!

  • "Russia could cut off internet to nato countries british military chief warns" 2017 DEC 14
    https://www.theguardian.com/wo... [theguardian.com]
    Peach’s warning came against a background of proposed cutbacks to the UK’s armed forces, including a reduction in the number of marines from 7,000 to 6,000 and the scrapping of two amphibious landing ships as part of a Cabinet Office security review scheduled to be announced early next year.
  • This has been done since Submarines were reliable enough to do so. Hell, surface ships were pulling up submerged cables to put taps on them around a century ago.

    You Millennials are so cute thinking you are the first to think of an idea and act on it.
  • NUKE EM
  • I hate to disappoint "The Hill" but this kind of thing was stock and trade for cold war era antics.
    And the way the article was written; you would think it was edited by a 2nd grader that can't find the term DSRV anywhere or look up the evolution of deep diving vessels that manipulate things on the ocean floor.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep-submergence_rescue_vehicle

    Gad, you can rent one for repairing underwater oil pipelines from offshore rigs.
    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/5b/7c/15/5b7c158be3ce5919e5

  • The US has been poking around underwater cables off the coast of Russia, and previously the USSR, for years. Here's a fun example from the late 70's early 80's: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] Also lets not forget that the USS Jimmy Carter is probably up to this stuff right now: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

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