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[liberationtech] Are undersea cables tapped before they get to ISP's? [was Re: Security over SONET/SDH]

coderman coderman at
Tue Jun 25 10:09:06 PDT 2013

On Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 6:26 AM, Eugen Leitl <eugen at> wrote:
> ...
> Very few ISP's ever go to the landing stations, typically the cable operators provide cross connects to a small number of backhaul providers.  That makes a much smaller number of people who might ever notice the splitters and taps, and makes it totally transparent to the ISP.  But the big question is, does this happen?  I'm sure some people on this list have been to cable landing stations and looked around.  I'm not sure if any of them will comment.

yes it happens.  c.f.:

the lower images are the facilities at the landing site, the upper
images the termination / peering point a few score miles down fiber.
pre-911 the landing site was more shack and less fortress (i may have
a before picture somewhere.)

cryptome has some great info on cable routes and facilities:

note that this line of inquiry is frowned upon.  after Sean Gorman's
dissertation on critical infrastructure vulnerabilities the prevailing
approach has been security through obscurity.  we all know how well
that works...  ;)

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