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Somebody Is Cutting Internet Cables In California

The FBI is investigating a string of recent physical attacks on Internet cables in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The most recent occurred early Tuesday morning, reports The Wall Street Journal, hitting "several cables in Livermore, Calif., shortly before 4:30 a.m. Pacific time and hadn't been repaired as of early Tuesday evening, according to several Internet service providers affected by the outage."

The FBI has asked for the public's help in finding those responsible for the attacks.

According to USA Today, there have been at least 11 attacks since a year ago. The newspaper adds:

"FBI agents declined to specify how significantly the attack affected customers, citing the ongoing investigation. In Tuesday's attack, someone broke into an underground vault and cut three fiber-optic cables belonging to Colorado-based service providers Level 3 and Zayo.

"The attacks date back to at least July 6, 2014, said FBI Special Agent Greg Wuthrich.

" 'When it affects multiple companies and cities, it does become disturbing,' Wuthrich said. 'We definitely need the public's assistance.' "

Fiber-optic cables are the backbone of high-speed Internet service, with each cable containing thousands of fibers that use light waves to transmit data.

In our interconnected world, a cut cable can have far-reaching consequences. The Journal reports that Microsoft experienced "a slowdown in its Azure cloud computing service in the western U.S linked to cut fiber" and that service providers reported disruptions as far north as Seattle.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.