If You Can’t Kill the Internet by DDoS, Try An Axe

It’s said to be more than 500 ways to kill a cat. How many ways there is to kill the Internet is yet to be determined, but some people seems very keen to find out:  Reuters reports, Thursday, that the Egyptian coastguard have intercepted a fishing boat off the coast of Alexandria and arrested three men in the act of trying to cut through the SEA-ME-WE 4 undersea cable. The cable is one of the main Internet connections between Asia and Europe, transporting 1,28 terabytes of data.

“Multiple sub sea cable cuts have been confirmed off the northern coast of Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea, which are impacting a number of cable systems in AfricaMiddle East and Asia connecting to Europe,”



The Internet does not live in anything resembling a cloud (yet). Instead it resides in hundreds of cables snaking underground and along the bottom of the sea, where it is susceptible to ship anchors, marine life, and sabotage. That’s exactly the kind of attack that seems to be underway. The past week we have seen reports of several severed cables off the coast of Egypt.

According to Reuters, the Egyptian coastguard intercepted a fishing boat off the coast of Alexandria and arrested three men trying to cut through the SEA-ME-WE 4 undersea cable, yesterday. The cable is one of the main connections between Asia and Europe, running from France to Malaysia and linking Italy, north Africa, the middle east and south Asia.

The men are at the moment being interrogated by Egyptian authorities. Their identities are still unknown.

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The Egyptian navy have  uploaded their pictures on Facebook, so if you recognize any of them, please notify the authorities via this link.

Over the past week there has been several reports of severed cables off near the coast of Egypt that are part of Seacom, a network of cables serving much of Africa.

Seacom officials have up to now suspected careless ships. But the arrest of the three men yesterday suggests there could a concerted effort to take down Egypt’s connectivity.


A similar spate of cuts affected the region in 2008, though no culprit was officially established.

Most big countries have several redundant cables landing on their shores. But the loss of even a single one means that all the traffic must be jammed through remaining connections, causing congestion. And there is nothing to stop determined attackers from targeting several cables.

webaxeMany cables go through geographic chokepoints like the Suez, and it wouldn’t be difficult to disrupt a whole bunch of connections for a period of time.

Yesterday’s attacks on the Internet’s infrastructure – the Cyberbunker attack and the Egyptian cable cutters – show two ways of waging asymmetric war in the Internet era.

If your aim is a single company, it helps to know how to wrangle thousands of zombie computers into a precise, targeted attack. That also has the benefit of allowing regular users—and the attackers themselves—to stay online.

But if your target is bigger, say a country or a continent, all it takes to cripple the network is scuba gear and a few sharp-edged tools, qz.com writes.

In other words: If you see someone lurking around with a snorkel and an axe – call the police !


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One response to “If You Can’t Kill the Internet by DDoS, Try An Axe

  1. Pingback: If You Can’t Kill the Internet by DDoS, Try An Axe | Rational Arrogance