The unsolved mystery attack on Internet cables in Paris | MarketingwithAnoy

At this time, there is little information about who may have been behind the attacks. No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the damage, and French police have not announced any arrests in connection with the cuts. Neither the Paris public prosecutor’s office nor Anssi, the French cybersecurity agency, responded to WIRED’s requests for comment.

In June, It was reported by CyberScoop claims that “radical ecologists” opposed to digitization may be behind the attacks. However, several experts who spoke to WIRED were skeptical of the proposal. “It’s pretty unlikely,” says Combot. Instead, in many potential sabotage cases he has seen, those attacking the telecommunications infrastructure target cellphone towers where the damage is obvious and take responsibility for their actions.

In France – and more widely around the world – there has been an increase in attacks against telecom towers in recent years, including cutting cables, setting fire to mobile phone towers and attacking engineers. When the Covid-19 pandemic started in early 2020, there was an increase in attacks against 5G equipment such as Conspiracy theorists mistakenly believed that the networking standard could be dangerous to people’s health.

While some caution against assuming that environmentalists were behind the April attacks, there is a precedent for such actions in France: Survey in December 2021 carried out by the environmental media Reporters, as noted by CyberScoop, documented more than 140 attacks against 5G equipment and telecommunications infrastructure. The attacks are said to show a pattern based on “rejection of a digitized society.”

In one of the other biggest attacks against French networks, more than 100,000 people found themselves struggling to get online in May 2020 after several cables were cut. Over the past three months, there have been an estimated 75 attacks against telecommunications networks in France. However, the total number of attacks has decreased since 2020.

Combot says the April attack was one of the “largest incidents” targeting telecommunications infrastructure in recent years. It also highlights the fragility of local internet cables. “Breaking the Internet is not a good thing for those who have the idea because the Internet is locally vulnerable but globally resilient,” says Guillaume.

While cutting cables and setting cell phone towers on fire can cause temporary Internet outages or slowdowns, Internet traffic can usually be rerouted relatively quickly. In short: it is very difficult to take the Internet offline on a large scale. The Internet can largely withstand human sabotage, damage from natural events and Canadian beavers cutting through cables.

This does not mean that threats to the connection cannot cause widespread disruption. “I fear that these attacks, in France and elsewhere in the world, will happen again,” says Combot. “There are vulnerable points all over the world,” he adds, highlighting Egypt, where undersea cables pass between Europe and Asia. In June, the EU published an in-depth review of undersea internet cables that says more should be done to protect them.

DE-CIX’s king says most incidents around cables are usually accidents, such as damage from roadworks or earthquakes. “The solution is to introduce redundancy into the connectivity design,” says King. This means having multiple connections in the Internet’s backbone and systems to replace others in the event of potential failures or attacks. Every system should have a backup.

Policy and technical measures can reduce the chances of attacks on network connections. “The best way to combat these attacks is to have better threat intelligence,” says Oxford’s Laudrain. The French telecoms federation says it is working more closely with law enforcement to try to stop those who would attack cables. “Some companies publish confidential network information on their websites,” says Lumens Modlin. “They should seriously consider removing exact location data due to its sensitive nature.” (She did not name the companies.)

In the meantime, Guillame says simple physical security measures can be taken, such as ensuring that areas where cables are accessible through the ground are covered by security cameras. Others suggest adding motion sensors to these locations. Preventing internet cables and equipment from being damaged and destroyed is critical, says Guillame. “Behind the digital economy, there are small businesses, craftsmen, schools, emergency services badly hit when they can no longer connect their services. It is not acceptable.”

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