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Saboteurs of Silicon Valley

Forget pirates….

In contrast to the sophisticated communications of the Conficker worm in its awakening today, some “Vandals of the Valley” took a more primitive, yet effective, approach to attacking phone and internet technology, cutting fiber-optic cables of AT&T at two locations today. Phone service, cellular service, Internet service, and 911 emergency services were cut to thousands of residential and business customers in Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, San Benito County and along the Peninsula. Four AT&T fiber-optic cables were cut in an underground vault shortly  before 1:30 AM PDT along Monterey Highway north of Blossom Hill Road in south San Jose. Four more underground cables were cut about two hours later. At least two of the latter cables belonged to AT&T. These cables were along Old County Road near Big Street in San Carlos. AT&T has been using Twitter to update customers and the public about the fiber-optic breaches. Cell phones, landlines, and the Internet were all affected.

As I typed this, a grim thought crossed my mind – if I were still working for Sun Microsystems, I might have had to deal with the problem. Whew! Dodged THAT one…! :-)

(Note added 10:13 PM PDT: According to TV news tonight, AT&T now states that cables in FOUR separate locations were cut. In addition to cell phones, landlines, and the Internet, service to ATMs [automatic teller machines] was also affected.)

Verizon, which uses AT&T cables in the South Bay said that 52,000 of its landline customers in Santa Clara County came back online just before 4:30 PM. AT&T hoped to have all service restored by 7 PM.

Vandals would have had to use equipment to lift heavy manhole covers and heavy-duty cutting equipment to cut cut cables that are the diameter of a silver dollar.

The vandalism occurred as AT&T is in talks with the Communications Workers of America for a contract that covers 80,000 employees. The old contract expired on Saturday at 11:59 PM, and workers have been working without a contract since the expiration.

AT&T has offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest AND conviction of the perpetrators.

(Note added April 10, 2009: AT&T has increased the bounty to $250,000. It is fascinating to me that a company that probably would not spend a dime to protect your Constitutional Fourth Amendment Rights would spend a quarter of a million dollars (I would get it in writing and have my lawyer check it) to find (AFTER the fact) the saboteurs who demonstrated the weakness and vulnerability of its infrastructure. I hope that the perpetrators are caught and punished severely. I also hope that ALL of us learn a valuable lesson from this experience with regard to the very real vulnerability of critical infrastructure, regardless of what those in authority tell us about such things. I also hope that someday, we learn to use our telecommunications for good rather than evil.)

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®. Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations worldwide! If you don’t see what you want or would like to receive an email when new photos are up on the site, send us an email at

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