Recently there was a report in the New York Times about “aggressive” Russian submarine activity around our underwater internet cables. What worries the Pentagon is that the Russians seem to be exploring vulnerabilities in the fiber optic cable network that controls the vast majority of the world’s voice and data. It is the heart of the internet. So should we worry about an attack on it? Well, the short answer is not too much. It’s built to take a lot.
There are 15 cables that make up this network, soon to be 16. They don’t work like a strand of xmas lights where when one bulb goes, the rest go with it. And, of course if you wipe out the Atlantic, there’s always the Pacific, and there’s satellites too. You would need a sustained and diverse attack on the cables using a lot of submarines, about 1 per cable to break the internet (Sorry, Ms. Kardashian). The people who build this infrastructure know that these cables will fail at times. Maybe from an anchor scrape or an earthquake, so they’ve built the network to withstand a lot. When one cable goes down the traffic is diverted onto a good one.
So, there’s probably better things to be afraid of. Most of the videos you’re downloading or streaming are probably hosted domestically anyway. So don’t lose any sleep over a submarine attack on our internets. We’re ready to handle those evil villains.
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