How to cut off the Internet the easy way? A Shovel

How to cut off the Internet the easy way? A Shovel

Summary: Who needs to be a dictator when you can cut off the Internet with one shovel.

TOPICS: Browser

According to the Guardian, one little old lady in Georgia managed to cut off an entire country, Armenia, from the Internet for five hours Her weapon? A shovel.

No, I’m not kidding.

The story goes that the woman was hunting for copper, which is worth real money these days everywhere, when in mid-dig, her shovel cut the fibre-logic cable which carried 90% of Armenia’s Internet.


The so-called “spade-hacker” with one slice managed to cut off Armenia’s Internet for five hours on March 28th. Who needs a back-hoe to kill off the Internet, when a shovel will do?

It’s all better now, but I think this brief little story makes an important point. We may still think, even after what has happened in Bahrain, Egypt, and Libya, that the Internet is nuclear-war proof. It’s not.

Yes, that may have been the Internet’s design spec. but that’s not the reality. Sure, in Japan, as we just saw in the aftermath of disaster, or the U.S. 0r Western Europe, the Internet can stand up to a beating, but, in all too many places, the Internet is dangling from a single slender spider’s thread of connectivity.

See Also:

Surviving Disaster: Japan’s Internet

How to crash the Internet

Freedom Box: Freeing the Internet one Server at a time

Bahrain’s death toll grows and its Internet slows

Topic: Browser

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  • And that is surprising how?

    given the economic/political conditions from country to country, how many make the Internet a top priority?

    When a country is under a civil war, or is in need of locating sources of fuel to stabilize their country, would they really invest in the internet/telecommunication infrastructure to the level of triple redundency?

    What is surprising here is the fact that the cable was burried shallow enough that a shovel could easily strike it.
    Tim Cook
  • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

    I recall a few years ago when some derailed freight cars cut of a significant part of a state. Then to make it harder to fix caught fire.
  • I guess everybody who got conned on the "cloud" ...

    ... are now cursing the day they signed up for the scam (in Armenia).<br><br>A single hour of down time can cost MILLIONS in loses. Imagine days and weeks of downtime .... it can bankrupt any company.
    • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

      @wackoae Indeed - I was on a job working at a Capital One campus and one of my coworkers had dropped his phone in a ditch and buried it... he decided to go digging after it with a backhoe (it was a brand new company phone and he panicked) and dug too deep and cut one of the trunk lines - it took a few hours to have fixed and CapOne lost millions. He somehow kept his job when most everyone else was let go...
  • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

    Not armored and only shovel depth?
    • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

      Maybe Armenians will dig deeper for gold than most.

      Seriously, the depth involved in burying cable seems to have been reduced. About twelve years ago SW Bell (ATT) ran an underground cable to a new house up the street. They did this by laying the cable in a narrow trench about two feet deep. Last fall an ATT contractor put in a cable to a house across the street and this is only a couple of inches down. Neither cable was armored.

      The two foot trench did make more of a mess of the lawn.
      • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

        @Bill4 The rules are a bit more relaxed for residential - once outside of a residence the cable is required to be either in some form of conduit and buried at least at a certain depth (dependent on the type of conduit) or be rated for direct burial and buried at least 2 feet below finished grade.
      • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

        Well I was living in Jeff City, MO for a while and had cable connection. That company just laid the cable on the grass and every tuesday a lawn mower used cut the cable while mowing lawn and I had to call the cable company and after few times of this I had to cancel the service.
        Ram U
      • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

        @Rama.NET You must live in the most stupid county: The cable provider for laying it on top, The guy that mows the lawn for not realizing it every saturday. And you for contracting with them and not ensure it didn't happen a second time.
      • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

        @Bill4 <br><br>I have seen both telephone and cable lines running to a house buried <b>by placing them just under the sod</b>. This is usually the fault of a lazy (or contract) installer (as opposed to a company employee).<br><br>During my 10 years spent as an electrician, we <b>HAD</b> to bury permanent wiring at least 18 inches below the surface. Temporary stuff, like construction trailers, 8 inches would suffice.<br><br>The local power company would bury its high voltage primary lines no less than 36 inches down. I will never forget the day when this completely ignorant sprinkler installer cut through 3 high voltage lines with his ditch digger. At the time, he had the tail fully extended straight down. The tail on that machine was <b>FIVE FEET</b> long. The resulting explosion blew the tail piece 50 feet away. The operator was lucky to have survived, 12 KV turns one into fried bacon quick.
    • Yeah this sounds a bit suspicious.

      @MoeFugger For a residential home yes, but a backbone cable that doesn't sound right!
  • Just because Armenia's network is poorly groomed...

    doesn't mean there was any issue with the Internet. The Internet stood up just fine, even if a small piece was isolated. If Armenia wants more reliable access, then they should pull in lines from multiple providers at different points.

    So no, this story does not make an important point. Instead, it's just another case of the media trying to paint doom and gloom for no reason other than their own benefit.
    • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

      @jeff.redding@... Sure it makes an important point(s): It made me laugh, that is important, and also not to mess with the Internets over in Armenia or your ass is going to jail for 2 years lol. Oh and also, you don't need uber hacking skills to do major damage.

      I wouldn't really call this story an act of painting "doom and gloom", for this is something that is beyond unlikely to happen in most places. It is just a fun little story for geeks to read and talk about, so take it for what it is in my opinion.
  • who needs a shovel? Frost does the job too.

    There are really only two public data networks in Michigan's entire Upper Peninsula - one owned by Charter Cable, and one owned by AT&T carrying most of the traffic, including 9-1-1 services and the cellular networks for both Verizon and AT&T (no other providers here). There is no redundancy or network crossover.

    At least annually this U.S.A. area of 16K+ square miles is cut off; typically by a backhoe, but at least once after a brutal winter by frost heaves (for those living in warmer climates - look up the phenomena). AT&T doesn't feel redundancy is justified.

    Mr. Vaughan-Nichol's story doesn't happen only in far off countries.
    Jim Johnson
    • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

      @Jim Johnson Here in Tennessee we would consider the UP to be a far off country. My friends from Holland (MI) considered the UP to be a far off country!
  • Public Internet Never Bomb Proof

    The internet as we know and love it these days was never intended to be "bomb-proof." It was when it was controlled by DARPA and DREN, but since released to the public the multi-homing and path options are sufficient to provide a resilient service assuming no entrance facility is a Single Point of Failure.

    As for burial depth - doesn't matter. Cables seem to be homing beacons for backhoes, flood washouts, train derailments, etc. I remember when the entire Southeast US was cut off from telephone service because a farmer in Alabama buried his favorite cow in the back 40. I also know that cable mining by Western Electric (back before they were Lucent) in NYC cut off lower Manhattan for an entire business day because a tech mis-marked a cable adn the next tech just cut it because it had a tag on it.

    Stuff happens and nothing is idiot proof.
  • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

    Cute story and possesses the substance of a glass of air. This subject will come up more and more in the shillster media outlets to get people used to the idea that they will not have access to the real information about 'what's coming'. Check out Barry's Internet Kill Switch.<br><br>Follow the money.
    Mordecai Irony
  • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

    Internet needs power and cables...
    Most of North America's cables are above ground...
    Much (most?) of Europe's cables are buried...
    Redundancy is the "law" in much of Europe...
    Taxes fund secure and redundant services of any kind...
    America hates taxes... and Canada is not far behind...
    You get what you pay for...
    Unfortunately, in spite of all the talk, North America is far from secure...
    As you sow, so you shall reap...
    And the reaper is coming...

    Taking down overhead cables does not require much of an imagination!!!...

    By the way, has anyone noticed that Japan seems to be handling their earthquake and tsunami crisis much better than Bush handled Katrina?
  • RE: How to cut off the Internet the easy easy? A Shovel

    No, with will power.
  • Use a power post hole auger...

    It rips and tears the cable from both directions. Then, instead of a neat little hole to splice the cable there is a big ugly trench where they had to dig back to find intact cable to splice from.

    My brother managed this putting in a fence. Luckily, it was only a stub off the main cable, so it only cost a few hundred dollars to fix.

    Remember, call before you dig is your friend!
    Brian Grimm