French police investigate multiple cuts of major internet cables

LE PECQ, France (AP) – French police said Friday they are investigating multiple cuts to fiber optic cables in France’s second largest city. Operators said the cables connect Marseille to other cities in France and Europe and that internet and telephone services have been severely disrupted.

The outages in Marseille were a foretaste of what analysts warn could be much bigger problems in other cases if cables were systematically attached. The vulnerability of fiber-optic cables, especially underwater ones, and other key infrastructure was highlighted by last month’s sabotage in the Baltic Sea of ​​pipelines from Russia.

Damage in the city in southern France also appeared to resemble alleged sabotage of other cables in the country earlier this year.

French cable operator and internet service provider Free said its repair teams were mobilized before dawn on Wednesday to deal with “a vandalism on our fiber infrastructure”.

It said the attacks were simultaneous and on multiple points on its fiber network near Marseille. The photos Free posted on Twitter showed multiple cables completely detached in their concrete housings buried in the ground. You said the cuts have led to major disruptions to your network and telephone services in the Marseille area.

A spokesman for the Marseille police said on Friday that the judicial police were investigating multiple cable breaks on the outskirts of the city.

Cyber ​​security firm Zscaler said the cut cables connect Marseille to Milan, Barcelona and the French city of Lyon. He said the cuts “have impacted major cables with connectivity in Asia, Europe, (the) United States and potentially other parts of the world.”

The damage also slowed some of the network traffic from Europe to India, company CEO Jay Chaudhry said.

“Since Zscaler controls the network, we have been able to redirect the traffic and mitigate the problem for our global users,” he posted.

In the case earlier this year, the French national intelligence agency was recruited to help with the investigation into the suspected sabotage of French fiber optic cables.

Photos later published by Free showed similar damage to the last cuts in Marseille, with multiple cables cut into their seemingly open concrete housings.

Internet service was cut off in several regions of France in that case, requiring the repair teams to call in the middle of the night. The Paris prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation and said that the French internal intelligence service, known as DGSI, was also enlisted, along with the judicial police.

The prosecutor opened an investigation in that case on charges of “damage to property with a nature detrimental to the fundamental interests of the nation”, as well as “obstruction of an automated data processing system” and criminal association.

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