Sun. Oct 1st, 2023

Content Assessment: Global Connection, Global Risk - The Cybersecurity of Subsea Cables



A short percentage-based assessment of the qualitative benefit of the industry backgrounder from ComplexDiscovery on the ENISA presented challenges and concerns regarding cybersecurity and the undersea cables that serve as the backbone of global internet connectivity.

Editor’s Note: The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) recently released a report emphasizing the vulnerabilities and security considerations around subsea cables, responsible for 97% of global internet traffic. Drawing insight from the report titled “Undersea Cables – What is at Stake,” this backgrounder aims to distill ENISA’s recommendations, point out existing vulnerabilities, and propose frameworks for the future. For professionals in cybersecurity, information governance, and eDiscovery, understanding these vulnerabilities is critical, as any compromise in subsea cables can have far-reaching implications on data protection, legal compliance, and global communication networks.

Industry Backgrounder

Global Connection, Global Risk: The Cybersecurity of Subsea Cables

ComplexDiscovery Staff

On August 31, 2023, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), Europe’s premier agency dedicated to harmonizing cybersecurity practices, released a ground-breaking report that underlines the urgent need to secure subsea cables—often described as the backbone of global internet connectivity. Operating under the umbrella of the EU Cybersecurity Act, ENISA’s assessment comes at a critical juncture as escalating cyber threats begin to cast a shadow on international data flow, pressing government and enterprise stakeholders to reevaluate the resilience of their digital infrastructures.

The Role of ENISA and Why it Matters

ENISA’s role in European cybersecurity policy cannot be overstated. Created in 2004 and reinforced by subsequent legislative acts, the agency holds a key position in shaping the cybersecurity landscape in Europe. For professionals working in cybersecurity, information governance, and eDiscovery, ENISA’s recommendations often serve as valuable guidelines, given the agency’s commitment to ensuring a secure and resilient digital Europe.

The Significance of Subsea Cables

Understanding the role that subsea cables play in international communication and data exchange is the first step toward realizing their importance. A staggering 97% of the world’s internet traffic travels through these cables, making their security critical. The implications for cybersecurity professionals are immense; any compromise could wreak havoc on international data flows and have legal implications for organizations responsible for data protection and governance.

Nature of Risks and Relevance to the Industry

The risks surrounding subsea cables vary widely from accidental disruptions, like those caused by commercial fishing, to intentional sabotage. Subsea cable landing stations, where these marine cables meet terrestrial networks, are often vulnerable points that can be exploited for malicious intent. These vulnerabilities should be of particular concern to information governance professionals. The potential for unauthorized data access or loss poses serious compliance challenges that need to be addressed to avoid costly legal repercussions.

Governance Complexity and Its Importance

Managing the protective measures for subsea cables adds a layer of complexity due to the multiplicity of authorities involved, ranging from telecom agencies to military services. Given the increasing prevalence of cross-border data exchanges in legal proceedings, this adds another layer of complexity for eDiscovery professionals, who must now consider the integrity of data as it traverses these undersea networks.

ENISA’s Recommendations and Future Implications

ENISA offers a set of well-considered recommendations that aim to strengthen the resilience and security of subsea cables. For professionals in cybersecurity, information governance, and eDiscovery, taking cognizance of these recommendations is imperative. Enhancing monitoring capabilities, for instance, can aid in the early detection of data breaches or unauthorized access—essential factors in legal compliance and data protection.

Final Thoughts on the Deep

In an era where digital communication is ubiquitous, securing subsea cables becomes paramount. The ENISA report furnishes a foundational understanding for all stakeholders, including professionals in cybersecurity, information governance, and eDiscovery. As international data flows continue to expand, implementing robust cybersecurity strategies based on these recommendations is not just optional but an essential commitment to ensure a resilient and secure global internet infrastructure.

Reference: Bafoutsou, G., Papaphilippou, M., Dekker, M., & E. (2023, August 31). Subsea Cables – What is at Stake? European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA). Retrieved September 6, 2023, from

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