TECH

What Would Happen If Russia Cut The Transatlantic Data Cables?

02/11/2015 11:21 GMT | Updated 02/11/2015 11:59 GMT

Recent reports have suggested that deep beneath the ocean, something ominous is taking place. According to sources inside the US intelligence community there is an increased fear that Russia could have the power to take down the world's internet.

submarine cables

How? Undersea cables. According to these reports, Russian submarines have been taking an increased interest in the cables that run thousands of miles at the bottom of the ocean, providing you with the ability to read this article and giving us the ability to write it.

Some have even postured that these deep sea cloak and dagger manoeuvres could be the start of a 'new Cold War'.

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How vulnerable are these cables though, and what damage could Russia actually do if it did decide to cut them?

Well for starters there's the sheer volume of traffic that is used by undersea cables. 99 per cent of the internet's traffic is used by them with just a meagre 1 per cent being dealt with by satellites.

Considering their importance, undersea cables are notoriously hard to keep track of. With the longest cable (out of 278) spanning over 20,000 kilometres it can become a nightmare to make sure that every single kilometre is being watched and safeguarded.

Then there's the simple fact that they're nothing more than cables, and cables that can be damaged fairly easily.

Susceptible to damage from general shipping traffic anyway, these cables are in relative terms, delicate. It wouldn't be too difficult for a Russian submarine to cause major damage to one of them.

russian submarine

What could be of greater concern to the US though is not that Russia would ever destroy one of these cables, but instead that it would start listening in on them, something that many argue both countries are doing already.