We’ve all been there before; you’re sitting at your desk — either in your home or at your office — when the internet goes out. Given how connected we’ve all become these days, this can often lead to sudden panic, followed by tremors and profuse sweating (ok, we made that last part up). If the problem isn’t with our own home or work networks, it’s most often a problem with the internet service provider (ISP) — be it routine maintenance, faulty equipment, or a natural disaster that is causing the outage.
While inconvenient, these service interruptions are to be expected from time to time and is something that we all get used to. But what happens when that outage is caused by vandals just looking to purposefully interrupt internet service? And what if those vandals struck not once, but over a dozen times in one particular area of the country over the span of a year? Not only will have you have a bunch of pissed off customers, but also some pretty steamed ISPs as well.
The FBI has been investigating a rash of fiber-optic cable disruptions in the Northern California area, which have been ongoing since July 6, 2014. "When it affects multiple companies and cities, it does become disturbing," said FBI Special Agent Greg Wuthrich in July. "We definitely need the public's assistance."
In the most recent incident, AT&T says that vandals entered underground facilities using manhole covers to cut fiber cables providing internet access to Alameda County. The vandalism occurred at 10:30pm on Monday evening, and service wasn’t fully restored until Wednesday morning.
Needless to say, AT&T is getting sick of these frequent fiber cuts and is offering a reward of $250,000 for information leading to the capture and conviction of these criminals. It’s unknown if these attacks are all being conducted by the same folks, or if there are copycats looking to score some cheap thrills by taking thousands of companies and individuals offline.
Whatever the case, residents of Northern California, along with all the ISPs affected by this vandalism, will all be elated once these criminals are finally put behind bars.