(NYTIMES) — WASHINGTON — Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of conflict.
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The issue goes beyond old Cold War worries that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: In times of tension or conflict, the ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent.
Inside the Pentagon and the nation’s intelligence agencies, the assessments of Russia’s increasing activities are highly classified and not publicly discussed in detail. American officials are secretive about what they are doing to both monitor the activity and find ways to recover quickly if cables are cut. But more than half a dozen officials confirmed in broad terms that it had become the source of significant attention in the Pentagon.