As tensions escalate between Russia and the rest of the world, the threat of a global internet shutdown is growing.
For several weeks now, the war between Russia and Ukraine has been played out both on the front and behind a screen. The Kremlin has multiplied cyberattacks against the government of Volodymyr Zelensky, but also against the allied forces. To the point that the American president Joe Biden called this week to prepare for a major cyberattack from Russia.
Today, the politician no longer excludes a critical strike against vital infrastructure: if it was initially thought that Russia would go so far as to disconnect from the global web to build its own closed network — which would save it lots of hacking from Anonymous — the threat of an attack against the global Internet, and more specifically undersea cables, is becoming more and more pressing.
Submarine cables, guarantors of the Internet
Responsible for 99.7% of data exchanges in the world, undersea Internet cables are the guarantors of our connection. In total yields France 24they are close to 450 to connect the five continents together over nearly 1.3 million kilometers. Essential devices therefore, both in our daily lives and for the hundreds of billions of financial transactions that take place each year across the globe.
While the risks of Russian cyberattack are becoming more and more tangible, several experts now fear that the Kremlin will attack these cables. Last January, the head of the British armed forces, Tony Radakin already mentioned the possibility for Vladimir Putin to “to endanger the information circulation system which depends on the numerous submarine cables”.
Is the Internet Worth a Third World War?
If these imposing cables rest at the bottom of the seas and oceans, they do not benefit from any particular protection. It must be said that since their deployment, this is the first time that the threat of a third world war is also real. Sabotaging an Internet cable is therefore technically possible… but very risky. On the one hand because by damaging the global infrastructure, Russia would also deprive itself of the Internet. on the other because these cables undoubtedly represent one of the red lines not to be crossed if she wants to avoid starting a third world war.
For several weeks now, suspicious activity emanating from Russia has been reported in the immediate vicinity of the cables. No attack has yet been carried out, but the Kremlin seems unwilling to close any options in the event of a critical situation.