Undersea Telecommunication Cables as an Element of Global Critical Infrastructure. Assessment of Vulnerability
The article is the first in Polish literature attempt to present the role played in the modern information world by undersea telecommunications cables. The author draws a synthetic history of the undersea cables’ development as well as presents its current network. The article also discusses the most common causes that lead to cutting the cables and shows examples of such events and their consequences. The author also emphasizes that according to the international law of the sea the telecommunication cables are not subject to special protection. Although they are an important element of critical infrastructure, this issue does not arouse the interest of states, because in the vast majority they are owned by private companies. The development of cable-based communication is extremely dynamic. In a period shorter than that of one generation, they transformed from a „means of communication”, useful, but without a critical importance, to the real „nervous system” of a globalized economy operating mainly based on virtual reality. Undersea cables, due to their economic, political and social importance, as well as their physical characteristics, are potentially strongly exposed to destructive influences. They may be a consequence of natural disasters, but also of steps taken intentionally by individual people, extremist organizations or even states.