The FBI is investigating a series of attacks on fiber-optic cables that disrupted Internet service this week in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA Today reports.
The latest attacks brought the total in the past year to at least 11 in the area, prompting fears of a coordinated attack that could cripple Internet infrastructure.
“The FBI is asking for the public’s help in solving the attacks and preventing more,” USA Today reports. “FBI agents say whoever cut the cables has tools and equipment necessary to enter underground cable vaults and slice through protective conduit.”
JJ Thompson, CEO of the security consulting and services provider Rook Security, says the pattern of the attacks is disturbing. “When it’s situations that are scattered all in one geography, that raises the possibility that they are testing out capabilities, response times and impact,” Thompson is quoted saying. “That is a security person’s nightmare.”
The report notes: “In April 2009, underground fiber-optic cables in California were cut at four sites, knocking out landlines, cellphones and Internet service for tens of thousands in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.”
A report by Time magazine adds: “The latest attack, which happened at 4.20 a.m. PT on Tuesday, was particularly alarming as it appeared to have been a concerted strike on three Internet cables belonging to wholesalers Level 3 and Zayo. The result was a huge outage for those living in and around Sacramento for a good part of the day. According to Wave Broadband, an Internet provider to the area, service was restored by 11.40 p.m. on Tuesday evening.”