GRU, Russia’s foreign intelligence service, has reportedly dispatched agents to inspect the undersea internet cables that connect Europe and North America.
These undersea fiber-optic cables are the crucial infrastructure between internet, phone, and other digital networks. And Russia’s presence near cables in Ireland — a crucial hub — has Irish police concerned that GRU agents could tap in and spy on other countries, according to The Sunday Times.
Even more drastically, it’s resuscitated concerns that Russia might launch an attack on the cables that cuts a target nation off from the rest of the world.
Cracking The Vault
Ireland is a major hub for tech companies, Business Insider reports. Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Airbnb all have headquarters and store data in Dublin, making the country a juicy target for spies looking to extract valuable data.
And given that the Russian government fined Facebook and Twitter last week for refusing to store user data on Russian territory, it’s possible that the GRU is considering more direct action.
The Russian presence around Ireland’s undersea cables is particularly troubling because there may not be much Ireland can do about any interference.
“Ireland doesn’t have a counter-intelligence capability,” Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian security, told The Sunday Times. “It’s a relatively soft target.”
More on undersea cables: Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables