in 2001, on sept. 11th, many people in italy knew that something bad had happened even before the news of the attack had spread out, simply because the internet, all of a sudden, stopped working. italian academic institutions are connected to the garr network that, at least at that time, had one single main connection to rest of the internet: a router located at the bottom of the world trade center. after the deadly attack, the single access point to the internet for italian researchers was simply not there anymore.
in 2003 the biggest power outage in recent italian history left the whole country (almost 60 million people) without electricity for 9 hours. at that time, official explanations reported a fallen tree at the border with switzerland to be the cause that originated the cut. it seemed to me incredible that a single tree could have caused such a wide effect. but if the official explanation corresponded to truth, than it means that at the border between italy and switzerland there was (and maybe it is still the case) a single cable bringing energy to my country. same thing when you accidentally step on a lamp cable, you unplug it and the light turns off, that tree accidentally fell on the italian cable, and simply unplugged italy.
today, something similar happened in the internet. reuters reports that an under ocean optic cable in the arab gulf has been damaged and, as a consequence, india and egypt have almost completely lost their internet connection. that’s undoubtedly true that internet in india is much slower than usual today, and i have no reason to doubt that something has been damaged either. but once again, i ask myself how is it possible that there are so many important networks (internet, power grids) that have some many critical points?
knowledge of all these critical points can give a huge power. is it true that a bad guy with a good pair of scissors can completely cut electricity in one of the most industrialized countries in the world, or can cut out of the internet the most populated democracy in the world? well, maybe for this las one the bad guy would also need to have at least an oxygen equipment. or a submarine?