I'm betting not. Ivy Bells was back in the days of copper wires being tapped by external sensors placed atop undersea cables. Today's undersea cables are optical. You'd need to splice in, or at least open up a cable to get at the individual fibers to install similar taps. I cannot see how that would be done in the pressurized world of submarines. Normal procedure for such work involves hauling the cable to a surface ship where it can be picked apart by hand. A sub would have to somehow pull the cable inside its pressure hull, a very dangerous task. Any sub equipped for such an operation would surely be noticed (massive doors, reconfigured interior spaces, special station-keeping thrusters etc).
Maybe they do it in very shallow water, but then you would still need a dry environment. You would have to deal with the current passing through the cable, somehow without detection or cooperation from the cable's operators. There are just too many difficulties to make splicing-by-submarine practical.
It is 100' longer than other subs in the same class thanks to special equipment "which allows launch and recovery of ROVs and Navy SEAL forces".
Once the tap is in place, how do you get the information from the tap back to HQ? The sub won't have the manpower and computers needed to gain meaningful intel from such a cable. Getting the data back to shore would require either another cable or an in situ recording device a la ivy bells. Recording devices would both delay any data by weeks/months and limit the ability to insert data, an essential task when attacking encrypted connections.
That's an excellent point but I think they have a way to lift the cable off the seabed and make a splice even though it's hard. NSA are masters of making the impossible work.
What I can't figure out is how they collect the data. These optical cables carry tens of terabits of data per second so how do you store & transmit it back for analysis? I'm guessing they filter some of it but you still end up with lots of bits.
It's be much easier to mess with routing (in secret or not) and capture data at another point.
complete guess, but probably just chop it and quickly install another "repeater" that does everything the existing repeaters do, in addition to copying the information into their own system.
Now, how do they filter out and find what they're looking for ? who knows. probably run a secondary fiber line to an underwater "server room" and/or to a buoy with an antenna for remote control ?
Citation needed. And not Hollywood movies.
(If that wasn't possible, then repairing cable breaks would be insanely expensive.)
As far as spying goes, the game has evolved to the point where it's not really embarrassing any more. Everybody knows that everybody does it, and there's pretty strong resistance to going public. If anything did get discovered it'd probably be used for disinformation or behind-the-scenes political capital if not just destroyed. Finding a box of electronics at the bottom of the sea isn't quite the same as capturing an enemy pilot in a spy plane  and it's gotten to the point that embarrassing yourself for being spied on is just as bad as embarrassing an adversary (or friend) for doing the spying. Plus, how are you going to attribute blame anyway?
I wonder how many reported cable breaks were in fact screwed up tap installs ;)
The first assumption is that any such announcement by any entity public or private is either calculated or forced with plenty of forces in the background pulling the stings. It would make the most sense that pieces of Google were in the know, being forced by secret orders, and begging to be able to feign outrage publicly to save face.
A person doesn't have to be a conspiracy nut to have reasonable doubt about any of this. Secret courts, secret orders, and massive NSA data collection are all general public knowledge. It's hard to believe there is any public disclosure that is not planned and carefully negotiated.
Something's going on
The ads implied the device worked on jacketed fibres; I suppose that depends on the transparency of the jacket to 1064nm IR radiation.
It seems like they learned about a neat concept, made a proof of concept that actually worked, but ran into physical reality when they tried to turn it into a reliable product (while being optimistic along the way). It's real hard to stop being optimistic at exactly the right time, and I'd be pretty forgiving if it seemed like everybody was giving an honest effort.
If I was to build a queryable database, I'd grab something like Lucene, and stick that on top of something like Postgres. The next step would be to build an interface so my non-technical business partners don't have to write SQL or some other query and manually send that to the server, but instead can ask stupid questions like "how long are Trumps fingers" and get results. That last part is PRISM.
Could it be picked apart by a robot?
It was used in a clever manner to subtly suggest to the Germans an incorrect location (Pas-de-Calais) for D-Day.
WWII produced some of the most interesting (now publicly known) espionage operations. My favourite is Operation Mincemeat:
That's a quote in the article from a source who is another pair of journalists writing for Gawker.
RF doesn't propagate well through water - in fact VLF is best and only goes to about 20 meters depth. Subs are most vulnerable when on the surface.
So the idea that we'd be using underwater manned platforms at a cost of $1.7 billion each to monitor enemy radio from the conning tower (without even using a buoy) seems a bit absurd to me.
The NRO has launched 3 spy satellites already this year. They're monitoring signals from within 150 miles using high gain antennas without the constraints of salt water, risk of detection and negative effects of a low altitude antenna and a tiny radio horizon.
I too want to believe we have badass hacker subs, but this feels like laying the groundwork for a budget request.
^undersea cables are typically made up of a central fiber line, which look like human hairs in a small tube, and a shell of insulation and copper. You need power to send the signal across the ocean floor and, as we do not generate electricity underwater, all of the current needs to be sent from one end to the other to power all of the repeaters along the way.
The fiber optic cable is 17mm, but the cable itself can't be because of the power constraint (unless I'm missing something deep; feel free to correct me if so).
The cables are on sea charts so this can be avoided, but that won't stop deliberate saboteurs. The strategy for safeguarding undersea cables has been described as “security through obscurity.”
Undersea cable is different, and I suspect that nobody cares if 99.9% of the power is wasted to heat the power wire as long as enough gets to the repeaters.
Kirchhoff's law says that if your wire is insulated, ask the current that goes in one end comes out the other. The only thing is that you need to provide sufficient voltage to push it through the long wire.
e.g. Operation Barmaid, where a nuclear submarines was equipped with a giant set of cutters to allow it to cut and steal the towed sonar array from a Warsaw Pact vessel:
I do not see why that wouldn't be technically possible, unless someone cares to comment.
Undersea cables are DWDM systems where you have N x 10G,40G,100G waves. 100G MACsec is available in merchant silicon and out of the box on switches from Cisco & Arista (off the top of my head, I'm sure there are others).
You wouldn't even encrypt the undersea cables specifically, you'd encrypt your transport links before they leave your datacenter, that way you don't need to trust your carrier, the cable consortium, or anyone else (aside from your switch vendor...)
Even so, the metadata of who is talking to who and traffic flow analysis is very valuable to the NSA.
Highly redundant core routers like an asr9010 with 2nd/3rd gen line cards, or an mx960 are already expensive enough without making a 24-port 10GbE linecard twice as costly to buy by having crypto features. It is super rare to see such hardware in production for commercial ISPs.
However, while technically feasible (so as to protect metadata, who's talking to whom, etc.), due to the political weight & financial heft of certain state actors, tapping at the cable link endpoints would remain a strong possibility. This would obviate the actual need to link encrypt except of course for "optics"/marketing to data center customers.
But don't worry too much. As recent terrorist acts have shown, our intelligence communities retain their efficacy in the face of modern technological advances.
These days, tapping them isn't likely to be particularly useful. Anything sensitive transiting them is gonna be encrypted. Ivy Bells was possible because the Soviets thought it would be impossible to tap the cables - they were within Soviet waters and the tech used to finally do it was quite clever - so they didn't encrypt anything.
How am I not surprised that in an article about US espionage the American s̶t̶a̶t̶e̶ media makes sure to remind yet again us how bad, bad, bad the Russians are.
"So you stole emails from a political campaign? That's cool -- remember that conversation with your mistress in 2005? No? We do."
"""The privilege was first officially recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States in United States v. Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1 (1953). A military airplane, a B-29 Superfortress bomber, crashed. The widows of three civilian crew members sought accident reports on the crash but were told that to release such details would threaten national security by revealing the bomber's top-secret mission ...
In 2000, the accident reports were declassified and released, and it was found that the assertion that they contained secret information was fraudulent. The reports did, however, contain information about the poor condition of the aircraft itself, which would have been very compromising to the Air Force's case."""
So a Supreme Court case established precedence based on false claim of secret privilege from the government. That's pretty awful- if correct, it's a huge abuse of privelege.
Incidentally, I was not surprised to see Lucent mentioned in the Wired article- its predecessor, Bell Labs, had a very strong relationship with national security (The Idea Factory showed that the head of Bell Labs and the head of AT&T both maintained "secret schedules" where they would go to DC and share a lot of AT&T's access with security agencies.
In short: privilege should be applied sparingly and the precedence for it should be unimpeachable. In this case, the precedence is not unimpeachable; the specific case is still considered contentious.
Don't forget the time period that this happened in. The Soviets had tested their first nuke only a few years prior, Eastern Europe had fallen behind the Iron Curtain, communist movements were on the rise in the rest of Asia and had succeeded in taking China. The prospect of total war was very real. That you're doing a bad job of maintaining a certain class of warplane is very sensitive information in such an environment.
The OP reads like a funding request. It's a pitch for a world where hackers will live inside submarines close to the action, when we know from experience that even when submarines were used to tap lines that the submarine did nothing other than install the tap and scurry away. (They also retrieved the recorders, but then too scurried away asap.) You don't risk something like a sub, and the lives onboard, on information management that can be done from afar. A drone capable of operating untethered far away from the mother ship might as well be controlled from thousands of miles away. The sub may launch the hacker-drone, but no matter the navy's fantasy, subs won't be at the center of the flowchart.
Or to p.27 with a flowchart of the "Afloat Computer Network Operations", which uses Fleet Comms to connect to the Annapolis, which connects to a set of antennas?
You wrote "subs won't be at the center of the flowchart", but the sub literally is the closest box to the center of that flowchart.
(This is from an April 2012 document which is part of the Snowden leak.)
An airborne drone could do, does, the same job at 0.01% of the cost and 1/0 less lives on the line. The sub is ridiculous overkill.
It's just 100% fewer lives on the line.
The long usage history of sonobuoys and underwater decoys in submarine warfare seems reason to suppose that the use of similar sacrificial systems within the realm of possible tactics to further avoid detection of a submarine.
(2) A parabolic antenna, or any other very directional antenna, requires a stable platform. Either it's on a huge inflatable raft, or the sub is rigidly attached. Either way, the operation will be noticed.
(3) Sacrificial systems in submarine warfare are rare. They exist but, like aircraft launching flares, they draw attention and are therefor only used once the sub has been somehow detected. Subs don't like anything that draws attention unless things are already hitting the fan.
I'm not sure if you are suggesting that an antenna would have to be detrimental to the radar cross-section of a submarine or if you are suggesting that you can intercept radio waves from a high directivity antenna.
For the former, directional antennas are on all forms of modern day stealth vehicles without compromising the radar cross-section of the vehicle (eg. modern jet fighters).
For the latter I have already seen successful systems such as MADL  which use highly directional radio waves to communicate between stealth fighter jets (something you would hope would go undetected). So I highly doubt that submarines couldn't have a similar system in place.
> (2) A parabolic antenna, or any other very directional antenna, requires a stable platform. Either it's on a huge inflatable raft, or the sub is rigidly attached. Either way, the operation will be noticed.
As shown in , directional radio waves can be sent from one jet fighter to another. Both of these are not stable platforms.
Fighter aircraft as remarkable stable platforms. They spend 95%+ of their time wings-level, say +/- 5*. And most of the motions of an aircraft are commanded by the pilot, allowing electronics a momentary heads up to make decisions re antennas. Compare that to a tiny raft in even moderate seas, constantly moving in every dimension, where the random motion never, ever, stops. Many a fighter jock has suffered sea sickness.
In reality this non-story appears to simply be something convenient for the WP to tack on 2 paragraphs of Trump attacks. Kinda weird.
No. He gave US security information to the government USSR, not to the Russian people. By your definition any spy anywhere is "good".
Just because moral distinctions can be difficult to make doesn't mean we throw up our hands and say all actions are equally moral.
Isn't (most of) the communication over these links encrypted? What is the point of tapping into the information flow? Is it possible that they are able to decrypt it?