The Red Sea cables threat and global risk: Undersea sabotage


Navigating the cyber depths of Red Sea cable security

The intricate web of submarine cables silently underpins our global connectivity, a vast network sprawling across ocean floors. One of the world’s critical digital arteries is the network slicing through the Red Sea, a region now clouded by geopolitical tensions. These cables, unseen yet indispensable, ferry an enormous volume of financial data and keep the pulse of the internet steady. But what happens when this pulse faces the threat of being severed?

What are the submarine cables in the Red Sea?

Submarine cables in the Red Sea are critical fiber-optic lines laid on the seabed, connecting various countries along the Red Sea’s shores. These cables form an essential part of the global telecommunications infrastructure, carrying internet, data, and telecommunication signals between continents. The Red Sea cables are particularly significant due to the strategic geographic position, facilitating a significant portion of Europe, Africa, and Asia’s data transmission and contributing to global digital connectivity.


Geopolitical context

The waters of the Red Sea are turbulent not just with the ebb and flow of tides but with rising geopolitical tensions. Yemen, a nation gripped by civil strife, has become the arena for a broader standoff involving the United States and the United Kingdom. The Houthi rebels, linked to Iran, have recently turned their gaze to the seafloor, where cables like Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1) and Cable Falcon hold the global communication network together. Their actions, fuelled by the political support for the Palestinians, risk significant collateral damage beyond the regional conflict.

Who are the Houthi rebels?

The Houthi rebels, also known as Ansar Allah, are an Islamist political and armed movement that emerged from the Zaidi sect of Shia Islam in Yemen. They gained prominence in the late 1990s and have been involved in repeated conflicts with the Yemeni government. The group took control of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in 2014, leading to a continuing civil war involving regional powers.


Implications of sabotage in strategic undersea cables

AE-1 and Cable Falcon stretch over thousands of kilometers, silent highways of information. They lie vulnerable in the shallow Red Sea bed, where sabotage does not require sophisticated technology. Historical precedents have shown that cable cuts can lead to immediate and widespread disruption, a stark reminder of the fragile nature of our interconnected world.

A single act of undersea sabotage could ripple through the economy, halting financial transactions and causing internet blackouts. The short-term effects are clear, but the long-term consequences could catalyze a reexamination of global data security and sovereignty. With approximately 17% of the world’s internet traffic coursing through the Red Sea, the stakes are high, and so are the risks to regional stability.

Image of cables close to Yemen by the Submarine Cable Map.

Preventive measures and responses

Yemen Telecom, along with international partners, has been bolstering defenses and raising awareness of the criticality of undersea cables. Yet, it’s not just about physical fortification; it’s a call to global cooperation. We need to reinforce cybersecurity measures and international agreements to safeguard these undersea lifelines.

As the world teeters on the brink of digital disruption, the imperative for vigilance and collaborative security has never been more pronounced. The undersea cable infrastructure, often out of sight and mind, must be brought into the international spotlight, protected not just for the sake of uninterrupted browsing but for the continuity of our global economy and collective security. Consider the paramount importance of cybersecurity in an era where digital connectivity is as essential as the air we breathe. Join the discussion, share your thoughts, and explore solutions with the #RiskPulse community: Let’s secure today our shared digital future with global experts.

Are you seeking for experts in strategic intelligence and global security?

Contact ACK3, a specialized consultancy renowned for its proficiency in transforming complex data landscapes into strategic insights, driving operational excellence, and informed decision-making across various sectors.