FOILED UNDERSEA CABLE ATTACK HIGHLIGHTRS PUBLIC-PRIVATE CYBERSECURITY PARTNERSHIPS
May 2, 2022
by Hills 23 Consulting
On April 12, 2022, news agencies across the Pacific, and eventually the world, reported a foiled cyberattack on a Honolulu firm which, if successful, would have exposed undersea data infrastructure to attack. Some are surprised to find out that “over 95 percent of international data and voice transfers are currently routed through the many fiber optic cables that crisscross the world’s seafloors” (“Submarine Cables,” NOAA); these cables total thousands of miles, stretching from Honolulu to Dubai. Eight of these essential undersea cables provide data, internet, and phone services to Hawai’i and other Pacific nations. The International Hacking Group responsible temporarily gained access to a private firm with access to the undersea cables using high-level employee credentials. In the days since the original incident, international law enforcement partners have collaborated on at least one arrest, however detail remains sparce.
This incident is indicative of security concerns regarding undersea data cables voiced in The Atlantic Council’s “Cyber Defense Across The Ocean Floor: The Geopolitics of Submarine Cable Security,” published in 2021 and available here. These undersea cables are used, managed, and maintained by a mesh of private and public institutions. In an April 12th interview with Hawaii News Now, Burt Lum, Strategy Officer at the Hawai’i Broadband Innitiative, noted that “more cooperation between government and private companies [is needed]…there is an opportunity to collaborate and work together on a solution.” Hills23 Consulting looks forward to lending a hand and improving cybersecurity in the Pacific.