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Summary:

After three undersea cables in the Middle East were taken out last week, those who fear black helicopters started to worry. But now, with the number of broken undersea telecommunications cables in the Middle East rising to five, even sane people (and pundits) are donning their […]

After three undersea cables in the Middle East were taken out last week, those who fear black helicopters started to worry. But now, with the number of broken undersea telecommunications cables in the Middle East rising to five, even sane people (and pundits) are donning their tinfoil hats to discuss what might be behind it.

The Mossad Theory: This one blames the Israeli secret service for the cuts. Problem: What the heck do they have against India?


The Muslim Terrorist Theory: Do I really need to explain this one? Problem: Terrorists like to surf the Net too.

The Bubba Theory: Fisherman are told where the cables are, but don’t care. Problem: These guys do have maps and in some cases, boats weren’t in areas where the cuts occurred.

The Pentagon Theory: The U.S. is cutting the cables to deprive Iran and Syria from the Internet. In some variations of this theory, we’re working with Israel. Problem: We’re depriving India and Kuwait, too.

The James Bond Theory: The odds of a cable getting damaged are low. Multiply that by five and the odds get even lower. Problem: The cables are vulnerable. Geography forces many of the cables to run close together, and there are about 50 repairs to these things done each year all over the world.

Personally, my bets are on an angry Kraken.

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  1. [...] I like Om Malik’s Kraken theory Enjoyed This Post? Subscribe To Get Updates! [...]

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  2. Stacey,
    What worries more then who cut them – are the results. As I wrote in a post on my blog yesterday – “The Day the Internet Went Down” http://flatplanetphone.com/wordpress/?p=471

    The real problem is our dependency on hosted applications and data.
    Personally, my main communications are on Gmail, Facebook and IM. They are all hosted. I back up all my email to… Gmail. What will happen on the day the internet goes down??

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  3. askbusinesscoach Wednesday, February 6, 2008

    Coincidence? I for one don’t believe in 5 separate coincidences

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  4. When two cables were severed, I joked with a friend in Saudi Arabia that “they” want to replace it with systems more suited for snooping. Now, five!;the joke is on me. Hey, it is the Middle East, nothing happens by accident in that region. Imagine five cables severed for US; we would have been on Def-Con 4. Cheers!.

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  5. One cable cut is an accident.
    Two cables cut are a coincident.
    Three cables cut, maybe something’s going on.
    Four cables cut, OK, something is going on and we just don’t know what and probably never will.
    Five cables cut, see above.

    …all happening in the span of 10 days and serving mostly the MidEast?

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  6. [...] a FIFTH underseas cable has been cut!  Iran is off-line.  Conspiracy theories are abundant. [...]

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  7. [...] cable cut # 4 is confirmed as is a fifth. Gigaom.com is also recommending tinfoil hats and adds some food for [...]

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  8. [...] structure over there and I can’t link to it, but as of right now the URL is theoretically http://gigaom.com/2008/02/06/choose-your-own-conspiracy-undersea-cable-edition/). At any rate, fascinating stuff and I really have no idea what the real explanation is – there [...]

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  9. Have you ever heard of a book called “Blindman’s bluff”,
    or about operation “Ivy Bells” – US submarines used to
    enter soviet (territorial) waters and place listening
    devices on under-sea cables.

    Is someone snooping on internet / other communication?
    An accident cut five cables?

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  10. I agree that five cable cuts in such a short timespan is highly suspicious, but I think this is more a case of fragile infrastructure than targeted destruction. At least I hope that’s what it is.

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  11. [...] has a helpful guide to current conspiracy theories that attempt to explain why so many underseas cables are getting [...]

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  12. Apart from natural jokes on conspiracy theories, one shall try to figure out whether cable cuts where results of classical business-level over-optimizations (e.g. cost cuts on O&M) before looking into more profound question like “quo product” from major switch of Asian ISPs from European undersea cable branch to alternatives.

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  13. Dimitrios Matsoulis Thursday, February 7, 2008

    No matter what we say, the truth will probably never surface. Best thing to do is to back-up valuable files locally and regularly. Recent events prove that a few large pipelines can cause huge problems and a more distributed approach with lots of alternative roots is necessary.
    http://electronrun.wordpress.com/2008/01/31/undersea-cable-damage-hammers-internet-connectivity-in-egypt-and-india/

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  14. Wow, as many as 50 repairs a year world wide? That’s like, one a week, for the entire globe. I’m not sure how this is supposed to make anyone feel better about 4 in one week within a single region. These cables do run close together in some spots, but the damage has not all been in one location. I work in this industry. This is extremely rare. Given the political and religious climate of the region, and the absolute rarity of this event, I am personally convinced that this was no accident, especially when we are fed obviously false information about how it happened. I’m not willing to sign up to any one conspiracy theory, but we need to think about other reasons someone would do this besides making the Internet really slow for some people. Where is the traffic being rerouted to? Do those countries have the ability to tap network traffic? I bet they do.

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  15. [...] that the total of cables cut or disabled in the Middle East, there’s even more conspiracy theories coming out of the woodwork.  And it’s no wonder; if 50 of these happen a year worldwide, to have five happen within [...]

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  16. Hey, I will like to point out that internet is working nearly fine in India presently. I am based in India and had read that first cable will be repaired by Feb 10. There is enough redundancy built by ISPs that internet is working fine though slowly sometimes. The hiccups were faced for initial 1-2 days!!!
    Thanks,

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  17. [...] 7, 2008 in Computers, Israel, White Rose gigaom: Chose Your Own Conspiracy: After three undersea cables in the Middle East were taken out last week, those who fear black [...]

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  18. Since India was one of the countries and Bill Gates owns India, do you think it could be Apple Computer?

    How will they fix Vista without India?

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  19. I Find it absurd to think that Indian internet would be taken out if Middle Eastern cables are destroyed- there is internet in some villages of Indian where there isn’t clean water – Indian is hyper connected to the rest of the world, just look at all the outsourcing of call centers! Futhermore, the ambition of cutting communication networks is crucial to Israel and America –the ‘terrorist’ are leveraging online broadcast. It’s David and goliath – David has American gunships, David has a YouTube.

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  20. There were nine cable cuts in Asia between Taiwan and Japan in December 2006, as a result of earthquake activity, so this is not unprecedented.

    Not all of these recent cable issues have been cuts, and there’s a pretty definitive explanation (ship anchor) for one of the cuts (#4 below):

    1. VSNL’s SeaMeWe-4, 12.334 km from Alexandria, in the Mediterranean. Currently under repair, should be fixed by this weekend.

    2. Qtel’s cable from Haloul (Qatar) to Das (UAE), in the Persian Gulf. Probably not a cut, but damaged power system due to weather.

    3. FLAG’s Europe-Asia (FEA Segment D), 8.3 km from Alexandria, in the Mediterranean. Currently under repair, should be fixed by this weekend by cable ship CS Certamen.

    4. FLAG’s FALCON (FALCON Segment 2), 56 km from Dubai, UAE in the Persian Gulf, on the route to Al Seeb, Oman. Currently under repair, should be fixed by this weekend. This cut was due to a ship’s anchor–an abandoned 5-6 ton anchor was recovered by FLAG at the site.

    5. FLAG’s Europe-Asia (FEA Segment M), 28 km from Penang, Malaysia. Scheduled for repair on February 11 by cable ship CS Asean Restorer.

    6. FLAG’s FALCON (FALCON Segments 7a and 7b), two faults on the cable between Kuwait and Bandar Abbas, Iran, scheduled for repair on February 19.

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  21. My website link got truncated on the previous post, and my numbers were stripped out… here’s the link:

    http://lippard.blogspot.com/2008/02/middle-east-subsea-cable-cuts.html

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  22. Five cables severed in the Middle East within ten days?; no big deal,just another day in the neighborhood. Five cables severed for US?; we would have been on “Threatcon Delta”.

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  23. Krewthedral: “I Find it absurd to think that Indian internet would be taken out if Middle Eastern cables are destroyed.” First, it hasn’t been “taken out.” Second, take a look at a cable map and look at the paths of SeaMeWe-4 and FLAG’s Europe-Asia and FALCON cables. Third, take a look at Renesys’ summary of routing announcement changes as a result of the Mediterranean cable cuts.

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  24. [...] Great Internet Meltdown of Feb 2008 On January 31st, many parts of the middle east and asia lost internet connectivity as two undersea cables off the coast of Egypt were cut. They say that trouble comes in threes and so it did when a third cable was cut soon. But as if that was not enough a couple of more cables were cut in the following week. While access speeds in many countries slowed to a crawl, some were blanked out completely. MITs Technology Review magazine has an excellent article analyzing this internet collapse. It was speculated that the first two cables were cut by a ship’s anchor dragging along the sea floor. But Egypt has denied that any ships were present in that area at the time. So, it is still not clear what caused it. When something like this happens the situation is ripe for conspiracy theories. [...]

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  25. Maybe it´s a coincidence. But there are strange things happening:

    1. The cuts are not being covered by the main media as a headline; I couldn´t see for example a CNN guy repporting from Egypt or Dubai; could you?News distributed by AP to CNN and WSJ, which mentioned the cuts as an enigma, disappeared from the websites of these organizations.
    2. Yesterday in http://www.flagtelecom.com site a photo of a heavy anchor was showned as the cause of the cut#2 (Falcon cable)in Dubai; then, hours later, the photo disappeared.
    3. An article yesterday in WSJ was about only the economical problems undersea cable cuts may lead? What about the cuts themselves? Nothing.
      No creo en brujas pero que los hay los hay!!!!
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  26. [...] The Industry Standard: “Net Views: An undersea cable conspiracy?“ Giagaom.com: “Choose Your Own Conspiracy: Undersea Cable Edition“ Corriere della Sera: “Egitto e Emirati, black out di Internet. Ma chi ha tagliato i [...]

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  27. What would Kraken be doing in the Middle East? It’s too warm for him over there! He lives of the coast of Scandinavia. And he is already suffering from global warming. So why go to the Middle East? No, no it’s not him. Kraken is a victim of your conspiracy theory!

    It’s the Middle East man. What is an accident for the rest of the world, is normal over there. So, when it’s normal for the rest of the world, then they start worrying about accidents. They have guys like Osama to bring things back to ‘normal’.

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  28. and for those, who look into conspiracy causes – Cryptome is ready to deliver, as usual http://cryptome.org/cable-cuts.htm

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  29. [...] cables in the Mediterranean can make the Internet unusable for hundreds of millions, imagine what an intentional attack could [...]

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  30. [...] ships, MV Hounslow and MT Ann, believed to be responsible for damage to undersea cables that saw India lose half of its Internet capacity earlier this year, according to India’s Hindu News. Conspiracy theories have flourished about the source of the [...]

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  31. [...] cables in the Mediterranean can make the Internet unusable for hundreds of millions, imagine what an intentional attack could [...]

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  32. I personally think it’s got somthing to do with the US, the US is usually the cause of most of the worlds problems in some why or another. They then use this “terrorist theory” to then push the blame on to someone else. They must not want them “youTube’ing and Google’ing” what’s going on.

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  33. This is an interesting conspiracy. Many people should know about this. We all know that freemasons basically run everything from drugs, to oil, to military. Maybe one day the new world order will be exposed for what it really is.

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  34. [...] Some of these lines are the subvertness of the Domain Name Service (DNS), networks attacks, massive infrastructure failures, routers virus assaults, lack of freedom to access to some free services (like searching), or a [...]

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  35. [...] 10招干掉互联网? By admin • 4 26th, 2008 • Category: 新闻资讯 一直以来,我们都想当然地认为互联网是自由交流的全球平台:信息自由传播,随意发布新的应用程序,每个人都可以发出自己的声音,而且未来的互联网将与现在截然不同。不过,假如互联网消失了呢? ——怎么可能?! ——以下列出 10 种可能性,我们心里很明白,如果它们中任意一个成为现实,足以灭掉互联网。 1. DNS (域名解析服务)被颠覆了。互联网的正常运行全靠 DNS。如果有人破坏——或更糟,颠覆了——网站访问的基石,人们将会不再相信什么 URL 网址,网络欺诈也将变得如同儿戏,因为:占有 DNS 者,占有互联网。 2. 僵尸网络攻击!无数“肉鸡”电脑已被控制,躲在阴暗潮湿不通风角落的黑客只需一声令下,即可发起攻击。MessageLabs 的 Matt Sergeant 估计僵尸网络病毒控制了 5-10 百万的计算机(但有人认为这个数字没这么大)。现在,这些僵尸机器人让我们的收件箱充满了垃圾邮件,而过去,它们只是用来发泄一下不满情绪或者勒索恐吓一下网站。但最终,这将演变为一场军备竞争,只不过其中一方不受任何规则的约束。 3. 物理设备发生大规模故障。如果弄断几根地中海的电缆,可以让成千上万的用户无网可上。如果有人蓄意搞破坏,后果将不堪设想啊! 4. 肢解为 N 个独立网络。从古老的 Usenet 至今,人们一直进行着“物以类聚”的分组行为。Nicholas Carr 在《The Big Switch》 一书中指出:一项研究声称一个社区,不管保守或自由,其 90% 的链接都没能离开该社区。甚至,对某些参考链接工具进行配置以后,可以使访问者一直停留在具有相同观点的网站上。这样结果会怎样?一个个独立的信息孤岛, 人们分享的都是相同的观点和思想,并渐渐确信他们拥有唯一的、正确的答案。互联网的祖先们早有预见:这将是全球化社区之梦的破灭。 5. 出现一个真正意义上的病毒,攻破路由器。互联网的自我修复机制靠的是边界网关协议,即 BGP。但是,如果有人入侵路由器内部,会发生什么事情呢? 2006 年,在 NANOG 的一份演示文档中,Cisco 对这些不堪一击的弱点进行了探讨,断定“最具毁灭性的破坏来自对托管路由器进行有意的误配置。”如果 BGP 崩溃,不仅无法阻止互联网流量过载,还将失去登录路由器并将其修复的能力。 6. 更新导致崩溃。今日的大多数软件都需不断更新,并保持为最新版本。但有时,自动更新流程自身会引发故障。2007 年 8 月 16 日,Skype 无法使用。公司声称是 Windows 大量的自动更新造成了该故障。总有一天,更新包作为软件重要的一环,如网络堆栈,将造成故障,并且由于无法对其自身进行更新升级,从而导致大量用户无法操作或使用并需要人工介入修复。 7. 网络不再免费。如果运营商开始收取网站访问费用,正如有线电视公司收取相应的费用一样,你将很快发现每月账单上多了一项 “Google 月租”。很多提供 Facebook 和 YouTube 移动服务服务的公司,已经开始收取这种费用。这种死亡方式可能是最不易发现的,因为它预示着创新的末日——没有运营商的同意或默认,无人能推出下一个 Skype、Twitter 或 YouTube。 8. 律师介入。互联网作为自由言论的实验场将走到尽头。由于无法起诉网站本身,律师将追逐着网站拥有者和注册用户。正是通过这种手段,为瑞士的银行组织工作的律师 Julius Baer 对机密曝光网站 Wikileaks 进行起诉。一旦有了先例,将有更多人使用这种手段。唱片公司已经开始考虑起诉运营商违反版权。这是对网络中立性的讽刺:当电信商开始以不同的方式对待不同的字节,他们就不再是“公共运营商”,并且对传输数数据,包括非法内容,负法律责任。所以,他们将最终选择顺从。 9. 封闭城门。很多国家已经开始限制互联网的访问。中国的 (*****此处省去若干字*****)——是一个绝好的例子。我们拥有的不再是全球互通的互联网,而是当地立法者制定的道德标准。 10. 人类将自己干掉。Discover Magazine  在多年前已指出,我们拥有大量工具可以进行自我毁灭,从核武、炭疽病毒到人类自制的黑洞。没有人类的互联网是什么样? 互联网的最初灵感来自对学术自由和开放的向往,而现在它已成为由企业和运营商控制的商业平台。从 1969 年 ARPAnet 诞生到去年二月 Netscape 关闭,对于 Facebook 一代,这段历史也许只是昙花一现罢了。 Tagged as: 互联网 [...]

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  36. [...] cables in the Mediterranean can make the Internet unusable for hundreds of millions, imagine what an intentional attack could [...]

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  37. [...] Vu: back in February there were all sorts of conspiracy theories when first one, then two, finally three undersea communications cables were cut.  All of these [...]

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  38. [...] East and Asia. In January two cables went out in the Mediterranean Sea, and then two more went on the blink in February. Towards the end of 2008, similar cable cuts near Malta led to wide-scale problems. 2. Peering [...]

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  39. [...] East and Asia. In January two cables went out in the Mediterranean Sea, and then two more went on the blink in February. Towards the end of 2008, similar cable cuts near Malta led to wide-scale [...]

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