Attacks on Fiber Networks in California Baffle FBI

Authorities have yet to nail down a motive or culprit for more than a dozen breaches in the Bay Area


here’s a bad problem hitting the internet out west: someone’s been deliberately slicing through the cables that carry data between providers. And after looking into it for months, the FBI still has basically no idea who’s doing the damage or why. While everyone worries about high-tech hack attacks taking down networks, the attacks highlight that all it really takes is one determined person with a couple of cheap tools.

Damage to fiber-optic cables is, on some level, inevitable. Cars and trucks hit poles and take out above-ground wiring from time to time. Construction projects, large and small, put equipment in the wrong place and accidentally dig up a bundle of wires instead of a shovel of dirt. And then there are the squirrels, which seem to have a taste for destruction.

But what’s going on in California isn’t part of that low-level background chaos of being. Instead, it’s some kind of very deliberate series of attacks on heavy-duty cables that have been happening in the Bay area for at least a year.

The FBI has been investigating the acts of sabotage — now over a dozen — for months, but so far is no closer to any useful information, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The cuts have generally happened around midnight, give or take, and so far there are no known eyewitnesses who have seen any of the slicers doing the deed. Experts told the WSJ that all the attackers need is a hacksaw, a manhole lifter, and a rough idea of where to find the cables. Nobody knows how many people are involved. The timing and geography says that it could potentially be a single individual, but that they’d have had “little time to spare” to reach every spot in the same night.

Beyond that, the FBI’s got basically nothing: no motive, no suspects, and no understanding.

John Lightfoot, assistant deputy in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco field office, told the WSJ, “Everyone recognizes that there seems to be a pattern of events here … we really need the assistance of the public to reach out and help solve this one.”

Attacks on Fiber Networks in California Baffle FBI [Wall Street Journal]

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