NSA tapping undersea fibers?

David Honig honig at sprynet.com
Tue May 29 11:40:26 EDT 2001

At 09:46 PM 5/28/01 -0700, Tib wrote:
>the people trying to install the tap would be caught red handed? I don't have
>the manual handy on how they manage trans oceanic fiber lines, and I know

Stephenson has a nice 50 page description in an old online _Wired_

>are a few for redundancy so that they might not fly/swim out there
>for repairs. 

Marine 'truck rolls' are expensive.

It would also be incredibly fishy to any operator who saw a line
>go down and then come backup when both sides report that all physically
>immediately inspectable connections are otherwise normal and good? 

Yeah right, that *never* happens on networks.  

Hate to be
>cliche in this thought but if this happened about the only way I can see this
>taking place (from the limited knowledge I have on this) would be if there
>an NSA or other government agent standing over the operator as the alarm went
>off about the line failure and canceling it, then politely telling the
>'This never happened, and I was never here' (a'la James Earl Jones in Hunt
>Red October).

Always a cost-effective option.

>To sum this whole thing up - /IS/ there a way to put a tap on a fiber line
>without letting the whole world know you're doing it, if not just the
>operator/owner of the line itself? And if so could someone sketch it out for
>me or point me to a resource? I'd love to learn of it

Bet you would.

Get yourself some cheap orange fiber, a NIC to drive it, 
a raw photodetector/amp/oscilloscope, a sharp knife, 
and a collection of solvents.  Write it up.

Maybe do this all in a swimming pool if you think you're good.
Put the fiber in a high voltage conduit if you're *really* good :-).  



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