“Protecting submarine cables is a matter of strategic importance, and an integral part of our cybersecurity strategy. Any disruption or damage to these critical assets would have serious consequences for the functioning of our societies and economies. We must continue to work together with our partners to ensure the security and resilience of the global submarine cable network.” – Margaritis Schinas, Vice President of the European Commission for Promoting the European Way of Life, speaking at the Global Submarine Cable Forum in 2021.
Recent worries about underwater cable disruption have focused on Russia. Reports suggest Russia may be involved in attempts to disrupt or damage submarine cables, although there is no definitive evidence linking the country to any specific instances. A joint warning from the United States and the United Kingdom was issued in 2018 on Russian efforts to disrupt the underwater cables that transmit internet and communications traffic across continents. Yet, the exact amount of Russia’s involvement must be determined due to the difficulty of assigning blame for such situations.
There could be severe repercussions from any disruption. Submarine cable failures can have far-reaching consequences, affecting businesses and essential services like those provided by hospitals and fire departments. They can also disrupt international communication and exacerbate geopolitical tensions, leading to a spiral of escalation and instability.
So, maintaining global communications and guaranteeing the stability of the global economy necessitates protecting subsea cables. Governments and international organisations need to improve cable monitoring and surveillance, invest in backup systems and redundancy, and increase international collaboration to detect and deter malicious actors, among other measures, to prevent and reduce disruptions.
“The submarine cables are crucial for the transmission of international data and communications, and any damage to them would have a serious impact on the security and stability of the global economy. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we take all necessary measures to protect our submarine cables from physical and cyber threats.” – Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, at a meeting of the Federal Security Service in 2021.
Submarine cables will become more vital as the global economy and society merge. Maintaining peace and stability in a dynamic environment depends on us being able to count on them to stay safe at all times.
***Artur Lucas da Silva – Business Management & Administration (MBA & MSc) | Maritime Governance | Maritime Security | Advisory and Consultant | Team building and Mentoring