FBI Probes Attacks on West Coast Fiber Optic Cables
Some Internet users in the San Francisco Bay Area were unable to connect on Tuesday morning, but it wasn't an issue of congestion on the network or even a sophisticated cyber attack. The reason behind the outage was a lot less tech-savvy: someone cut the wires.
Apparently this wasn't an isolated incident. According to USA Today, the FBI is investigating nearly a dozen physical attacks on fiber optic cables in northern California over the past year.
"When it affects multiple companies and cities, it does become disturbing," FBI Special Agent Greg Wuthrich told the newspaper. "We definitely need the public's assistance."
In this week's attack, someone reportedly broke into an underground vault and snipped three fiber-optic cables belonging to Colorado-based service providers Level 3 and Zayo, resulting in outages for business and residents customers in and around Sacramento. That was just the latest in a string of similar attacks dating back to at least July 6, 2014 and reaching as far as Arizona.
Earlier this year, "tens of thousands" of Arizona residents faced Internet outages after someone cut underground fiber optic cables.
As USA Today notes, fiber optic cables are bundles of slender glass threads, which use light waves to transmit data. They're about the diameter of a pencil, but they're usually protected by tough flexible conduit sheathing — so cutting through them requires some tools and expertise.
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