Undersea cables easy target of hybrid warfare due to lack of protection

British Member of Parliament Rishi Sunak revealed the risks posed to the undersea cable network in his report from 1 December. Transmitting almost 97 % of all communications, data and financial transactions, the undersea cables are indispensable for our society, with no alternative of such capacity. Their vulnerability, however, attracts attention, as they have the potential to radically affect global economies and civil order once harmed.

Easy to target due to their publicly available location and unsophisticated equipment sufficient to damage them, the cables have no clear status in international law. As they do not belong to any particular country and no government, but rather private telecommunication companies, is responsible for them, an attack could hardly be evaluated as aggression against a state, making undersea infrastructure the centre of interest for unconventional warfare and leaving NATO with its hands tied. Russia, as the leading actor in hybrid warfare, is already operating near the cables and investing to improve its subsurface capabilities. Great Britain, who relies significantly on its digital economy, fears possible dangers more acutely amid Brexit talks. Although the European Union has yet not reacted to the threat, future security cooperation with Britain is already expected.

About author: Daniela Tkadlečková

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