Three Divers Arrested In Egypt For Trying To Sever Internet Cable
March 28, 2013

Three Divers Arrested In Egypt For Trying To Sever Undersea Internet Cable

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

As more of our digital lives move into the cloud, it´s easy to forget that what we know as the Internet is still quite dependent on physical objects, such as cables and servers. So while some hackers are focused on breaking into foreign networks using the Internet as a vehicle, three men decided to go straight to the source this week.

Donning Scuba gear, three divers swam to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea near the city of Alexandria, located the physical cables which deliver the Internet, and began slashing away. The Egyptian coastguard caught these men in the act and arrested them. Egyptian officials plan to interrogate the divers.

On his official Facebook page, Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali of the Egyptian Navy said these men were arrested while “cutting the undersea cable” belonging to the nation´s largest telecommunications company, Telecom Egypt.

Egypt has suffered some service disruptions in recent weeks and it´s not yet clear if these interruptions were caused by similar acts or by passing ships which may have cut the lines accidentally.

According to Reuters, cable operator SEACOM has not yet given any explanation for the previous service disruptions. Egyptians have been reporting slower connect times since last Friday.

Speaking to the Associated Press, chief technology officer and co-founder of network security firm Renesys Jim Crowie said connections as far as away as India and Pakistan have been affected by these cut cables.

The cable that was cut by the divers on Wednesday is said to have connected Africa with Europe and affected cables running to Asia and the Middle East. This cable was located just 820 yards off the northern coast of Alexandria. Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali did not comment on the divers´ motives for cutting the cable.

According to multiple reports, submarine cables in the Mediterranean are vulnerable to being cut by the propellers of passing ships. Officials suggest many of the service disruptions in recent years can be attributed to these sort of mishaps.

Cable operators are working to repair the lines and restore service.

Given an on-going war in other parts of the global Internet, this kind of villainy could further cripple an already suffering infrastructure.

It was announced yesterday that a London based spam-filtering group and a Dutch web-hosting service have been embroiled in the largest Internet attack in history.

Spam group Spamhaus claims hosting firm Cyberbunker is behind an ongoing attack which, at its peak, can reach 300 gigabits per second in DDoS requests. Such a heavy attack is taking a toll on the global Internet, and some services, such as Netflix, have said some users are having trouble accessing the site because of this ongoing war.

With bandwidth being stretched thin as these two battle it out, a cut submarine cable further restricts what was already in short supply.