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Vulnerability of UK internet infrastructure assessed

13 December 2017 - 09:49 by David Aiken

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Experts have argued that more needs to be done to protect the nation’s connectivity and ensure that it is not cut off from the rest of the world as a result of disasters or deliberate attacks, according to ITV News.

Ex-GCHQ chief, Robert Hannigan, said that the economic impact of key connections being interfered with would be disastrous and would be a major security risk for the UK, specifically because it is an island isolated from the rest of Europe and the world by the sea.

Almost all internet traffic is carried via terrestrial cables which run across the land and then invariably have to descend to the depths of the sea floor so that British people can work, communicate and carry out safe shopping online uninterrupted. This means that the handful of points at which these cables make landfall are vulnerable to a range of issues.

There are already examples of where cables being cut in other parts of the world, including Crimea, have led to serious calamities that have compromised the affected countries.

One solution being proposed following a report carried out on this subject by the think tank, Policy Exchange, is to equip the cables with sensors which can detect any attempts to subvert their integrity and allow a response to be mounted.

The cutting off of communication is just one aspect to consider, as malicious access to these physical conduits could also make it easier for hackers to steal data and generate disruption in other ways.

This is not something that average internet users need to worry about on a daily basis, but could become relevant in future conflicts. And as evidence of foreign meddling in US elections mounts, it is not just safe shopping online that is at risk.