How an internet cable sabotage in the south of France affected global connectivity

Alexander Schmid

October 21, 2022 at 1:35 p.m.


Internet © Thomas Jensen / Unsplash

© Thomas Jensen / Unsplash

A severed terrestrial cable around Aix-en-Provence, connected to important submarine cables in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, caused a slowdown in the global Internet.

Apparently it was sabotage.

A terrestrial cable connected to several submarine cables

It took almost 24 hours to resolve the problem, between Wednesday evening and Thursday evening. A terrestrial fiber cable would have been severed at Aix-en-Provence, affecting three major lines of the European internet network: Marseille-Lyon, Marseille-Milan and Marseille-Barcelona.

The repercussions, however, went well beyond the European continent, with an impact on connectivity “ to Asia, Europe, USA and potentially other parts of the world “says Zcaler.

Indeed, the disturbances on the Amsterdam-Paris-Lyon-Marseille axis have had repercussions on submarine cables in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean which serve the other continents.

A sabotage operation

Due to the cable cut, customers may experience packet loss and/or latency for websites and applications that use this path Zcaler warned. It seems that the technical teams arrived quickly on the scene of the incident in order to begin the repairs, but they had to wait for the police who had to examine the scene and collect any evidence before the intervention.

This is most likely a deliberate sabotage operation. The first elements of the investigation lead to believe that the saboteurs lifted the cast iron cover of a telecom chamber hidden in the roadway, before cutting the sleeve housing the fiber cables.

Around the same time, a submarine cable linking the Shetland Islands to the Scottish mainland was also damaged. The previous week, it was a link between the Faroe Islands and these same Shetland Islands that had required repair.

Sources: Zclarify, BleepingComputer

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