June 23, 2024

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The US fears that undersea cables could be vulnerable to spying on Chinese ships

The US fears that undersea cables could be vulnerable to spying on Chinese ships

SB Submarine Systems, a state-controlled Chinese company that helps fix international cables, appears to be hiding the location of its ships from radio and satellite tracking services, something these officials say and others that defy easy explanation, U.S. State Department officials said.

According to these officials, the warnings highlight an overlooked security risk for submarine fiber optic cables. Silicon Valley giants like Google and Meta partly own many cables and invest in others. But they rely on companies specializing in construction and repairs, including some foreign-owned, that U.S. officials fear could jeopardize the security of commercial and military data.

According to a source connected to SB submarine systems, the gaps in the company’s ship location data can be explained by spotty satellite coverage rather than an attempt to hide their positions. Cable owners often have representatives on ships doing repairs at sea, which can make it difficult to cover up any disruptions to cable equipment, the person added.

The Biden administration’s focus on repair ships is part of a broader effort to address China’s maritime activities in the western Pacific. Beijing has taken steps to counter U.S. military power in the region in recent decades, often seeking ways to block Pentagon communications and other technological advantages in the event of a conflict over Taiwan or another flashpoint, officials say.

The ships, named Fu Hai, Fu Tai and Bold Maverick, have periodically disappeared from satellite ship tracking services while operating in Taiwan, Indonesia and other coastal Asian locations, according to the Wall Street Journal. U.S. officials and industry experts said the data failures are unusual for commercial cable carriers and have no clear explanation. Source: Dow Jones Newswires

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