November 30, 2022

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DHS investigators say they foiled cyberattack on undersea world-wide-web cable in Hawaii

Penned by AJ Vicens

Federal agents in Honolulu past week “disrupted” an evident cyberattack on an unnamed telecommunication company’s servers associated with an underwater cable liable for web, cable support and cell connections in Hawaii and the location, the company mentioned in a statement Tuesday.

Hawaii-centered agents with Homeland Safety Investigations, an arm of the Section of Homeland Safety, acquired a tip from their mainland HSI counterparts that led to the disruption of a “significant breach involving a non-public company’s servers involved with an undersea cable.” The investigation revealed that “an intercontinental hacking group” was driving the attack, and “HSI brokers and global regulation enforcement partners in various international locations had been in a position to make an arrest.”

The assertion did not recognize the form of cyberattack alleged to have happened, the hacking group dependable, the other law enforcement businesses or exactly where any arrests took position. No harm or disruption occurred, and there is no instant danger, the assertion explained.

John Tobon, HSI’s specific agent in charge in Hawaii, told a local news station that investigators identified that the attackers had obtained qualifications that authorized accessibility to an unnamed company’s techniques.

“It could have been something to just create havoc, in other terms, just shut down communications, or it could have been utilized to concentrate on individuals in ransomware-form strategies,” he claimed.

As a great deal as 95% of intercontinental world-wide-web details flows by means of hundreds of “submarine” world-wide-web cables, according to the Countrywide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The cables are owned and operated by combinations of personal and condition-owned entities, and are struggling with rising challenges to their safety and resilience, in accordance to an Atlantic Council report revealed in September 2021.

That report’s author, Justin Sherman, outlines problems this sort of as authoritarian governments’ drive to control world wide web obtain, in component, by manipulating physical infrastructure these kinds of as the submarine traces. The lines are also eye-catching targets for surreptitious checking by govt or felony teams hunting to steal sensitive information.

But yet another threat, Sherman wrote in a web site post summarizing his report, is that additional cable operators are applying remote management devices for cable networks. “Many of these systems have lousy safety, which exposes cables to new amounts of cybersecurity chance,” he wrote. “Hackers could split into these internet-connected devices from anyplace in the world and bodily manipulate cable alerts, creating them to fall off fully — undermining the circulation of online info to specific components of the world.”

Sherman included that the ever-existing ransomware threat is acute with regard to these lines: “One can even imagine a danger actor (condition or non-point out) hacking into a cable management procedure and attempting to hold the infrastructure hostage.”