Earlier this year I wrote how Russia could never match the United States tank for tank or plane for plane, so the country has been heavily focusing on other realms of Warfare to get ahead – such as electronic and informational technologies. Prior to 2016 however, one of the other areas where Russia had been succeeding militaristically was within their Navy, particularly in regards to submersibles.
In April of 2016 I remember reading a story that no one in the United States or Britain knew the full extent of Russia’s submarine program and that throughout the course of 2015 and 2016, Russia had deployed more active submarines than any intelligence agency could count. At the time, top US officials also admitted how “we cannot maintain 100 percent awareness of Russian sub activity today. ” Going on to explain that while US subs can generally outperform Russian sub technology, we do not have the edge by much and their subs do pose an “existential threat” to our military.
Fast forward into today, a new report from the British Armed Forces released earlier this week warns of a new threat which is seldom talked about these days. Britain is warning that the worlds collective underwater internet infrastructure is completely vulnerable right now, and could therefore become an easy target for countries such as Russia or anyone else looking to cause harm in the future.
Why Should This Be More Important To You?
As was first reported by Security Affairs earlier today on December 18th 2017, “it is estimated that 97% of global communications are transmitted by underwater cables, and approximately 10 trillion of financial transaction is negotiated on a daily basis through these cables.” Pierluigi Paganini goes on to explain how “Any scenario involving an attack to this critical infrastructure could lead not only to an enormous loss of money but also to an enormous loss of life and the collapse of modern society due to its implications on supply chain and product delivery.”
If you have never read into all the things that go on under the sea that make “the internet” possible and accessible to everyone, Ars Technica wrote an excellent article on this subject explaining it in more nuanced terms. To learn more simply follow the link in the Twitter posting below:
— Martynas Skaringa (@skarware) July 8, 2016
In addition to under sea cables and other infrastructure like it, Britain is also warning how hacking operations are slowly spreading to the open seas. It is no great secret that War machines of all types run on the same computers and software programs that we use everyday, such as Windows. Therefore, military systems are just as vulnerable to the same cyber threats as citizens are. It just so happens that you don’t often find hackers hanging around the middle of the “Pacific Garbage Patch,” which is why the Navy has traditionally never had to deal with hackers whilst sailing around the open ocean before. However, according to the British Armed Forces, this may soon no longer be the case.
Britain warns that submarines and ships of all types will become targets of hackers in the future, a fact made more worrisome considering that some of our Nations most sophisticated military systems still run on outdated software, which already has known back-doors.
Fun fact 27/120: There are nuclear submarines out there carrying 40 nuclear warheads controlled by a computer running Windows XP.
— Andrej Karpathy (@karpathy) December 25, 2016
Wrapping up, it is not just the United States Air Force which has deployed a record number of drones over the years, the US Navy has also done the same. In fact, in direct response to Russia’s submarine program referenced earlier in this article, the US proceeded to launch an army of drone ships of their own, specifically designed to monitor, detect and track any underwater objects. While the majority of these drones were unarmed and used essentially as scouts or lookouts, some were reportedly equipped with depth charges – should they ever become necessary.