Note that this is only a reaction to what has already been happening months ago, as mentioned last September. U.S. officials then voiced concern over a high-tech Russian deep-sea spy vessel gathering intelligence from America’s nuclear submarine bases, which also happened to be equipped with cable cutting equipment. It was built to identify undersea communications trunk lines and nodes.
WASHINGTON — Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of conflict.
The issue goes beyond old Cold War worries that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: In times of tension or conflict, the ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent.
Inside the Pentagon and the nation’s intelligence agencies, the assessments of Russia’s increasing activities are highly classified and not publicly discussed in detail. American officials are secretive about what they are doing to both monitor the activity and find ways to recover quickly if cables are cut. But more than half a dozen officials confirmed in broad terms that it had become the source of significant attention in the Pentagon.
“I’m worried every day about what the Russians may be doing,” said Rear Adm. Frederick J. Roegge, commander of the Navy’s submarine fleet in the Pacific, who would not answer questions about potential Russian plans for cutting the undersea cables.
“The level of activity,’’ a senior European diplomat said, ‘‘is comparable to what we saw in the Cold War.”
One NATO ally, Norway, is so concerned that it has asked its neighbors for aid in tracking Russian submarines.
Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander of American naval forces in Europe, speaking in Washington this month, said the proficiency and operational tempo of the Russian submarine force was increasing.
Citing public remarks by the Russian Navy chief, Adm. Viktor Chirkov, Admiral Ferguson said the intensity of Russian submarine patrols had risen by almost 50 percent over the last year. Russia has increased its operating tempo to levels not seen in over a decade. Russian Arctic bases and their $2.4 billion investment in the Black Sea Fleet expansion by 2020 demonstrate their commitment to develop their military infrastructure on the flanks, he said.
Admiral Ferguson said that as part of Russia’s emerging doctrine of so-called hybrid warfare, it is increasingly using a mix of conventional force, Special Operations mission, and new weapons in the 21st-century battlefield.
“This involves the use of space, cyber, information warfare and hybrid warfare designed to cripple the decision-making cycle of the alliance,” Admiral Ferguson said, referring to NATO. “At sea, their focus is disrupting decision cycles.”
Full article: Russian Presence Near Undersea Cables Concerns U.S. (NY Times)