Attack on America's Most Important Pipeline

The key to protecting America’s most important pipeline could be your ticket to doubling your money in the next 24 months.

Ask yourself: What’s America’s most precious resource? Gold? Silver? Oil?

Here’s a hint: Ninety percent of it flows through pipelines. It’s immensely valuable, and that’s the investment angle I’ll describe in a moment.

Without this critical resource, your lights wouldn’t turn on when you flipped the switch… you couldn’t use your smartphone… hospitals could not function… the banking system would all but shut down… and even the shelves at your local grocery store would quickly be empty.

And here’s the catch:

These pipelines are unprotected. With no soldiers, no police — and most of the time, not even run-of-the-mill mall-cop security guards are watching.

There’s never been a better opportunity for “bad guys” to try to cut our lines… and that’s exactly why there’s never been a better opportunity to invest in technology that will stop them.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking oil or gas pipelines.

Today, I’m focused on a truly “different” kind of pipeline. In fact, I’ll bet that 80% or 90% of Americans don’t even know that these lines exist.

It’s all based on this simple map…

Pipeline1

 As you can see, the whole world is tied together. Also from the map, you can see that the U.S. has more pipelines going to and fro than any other country.

The pipelines to which I’m referring are fiber-optic cables laid down on the seafloor. In fact, “More than nine-tenths of Internet traffic travels through undersea fiber-optic cables,” says The Economist. That’s right, cables! Just look at the map below (click for a much larger version):

031414_tir2

America’s “most important pipeline” is arguably its transcontinental Internet connections. Right now, under the sea and crisscrossing the globe, cables connect six continents (not Antarctica, for obvious reasons; but then again, just wait!).

The modern undersea cable network is a far cry from the old telegraph cables that first carried dots and dashes across the Atlantic in President James Buchanan’s time.

Today, these cables don’t have copper wires carrying simple electrical impulses. No, the modern undersea cables are high-tech fiber-optic lines capable of moving almost unimaginable amounts of data at ever-increasing speeds.

[Ed. Note: This is a new angle in the tech trade of the decade, featured in Tomorrow in Review.]

Now consider that undersea cables are the No. 1 tool U.S. authorities use to coordinate with troops and allies overseas. Losing the wires could paralyze the U.S. military, as well as wreak havoc on Wall Street. All that and much more.

Just imagine if terrorists, or a foreign government, could take down critical systems — like the New York Stock Exchange, for example — simply by disconnecting the U.S. grid from the rest of the world. That’s just one example of the impact on the economy.

In fact,the “war of the pipelines” has already kicked off.

It commenced where you’d expect, actually: the Middle East. In January 2008, three different undersea cables were attacked and cut. The first attack, on Jan. 30, severed the SeaMeWe-4 and the FLAG Europe-Asia cables.

Instantly, Internet and telephone service slowed to a crawl or even went down all along a 3,000-mile swath from Cairo to New Delhi. It was later determined that 70% of Egypt’s and 60% of India’s Internet connections were disrupted.

Some sources suggest that as many as eight cables were cut that day, based on the amount of disruption of service.

At first, authorities in Dubai suspected it was an accident. Perhaps a ship’s anchor snagged the cables? Possibly, but they ruled that out after reviewing surveillance video footage, which showed that no ships passed the site 12 hours of the disruption began.

They concluded that they had been victims of foul play — very likely from an enemy country’s Special Forces or homegrown terrorists. Yet despite a thorough investigation, the true identities of the attackers were never uncovered.

If you think an attack like this couldn’t happen here in the U.S., think again!

Remember the terrorist attack on a San Jose, Calif., power station on April 16, 2013? Around 1 a.m., an unknown number of attackers cut telephone lines and commenced a 20-minute fusillade with high-powered rifles that left the electrical substation out of operation for 27 days.

Most people never heard about it. Was it just a training exercise for a larger attack on the power grid or even the Internet submarine cables?

What’s the lesson?

When it comes to protecting our economy and our lives from terrorists or foreign aggressors, sure, we need data protection — like passwords, encryption and firewalls. But we also need physical protection at the Internet’s most vital choke points.

The problem, however, is that we can’t station ships near every vulnerable cable. No airplane can remain airborne long enough. So “old” types of answers will not work in the new environment. Yet for as challenging as the problem is, companies are developing cutting-edge tools that protect “America’s most important pipeline” – our information systems.

One example of military-tech that’s solving this problem, even in today’s climate of budget cuts and downsizing, is amazing new automated combat systems that keep watch over the most far-flung fiber-optic cables.

For years, next-generation sensors have been installed as part of the sonar array on U.S. Navy Virginia-class fast attack submarines.

But now their uses are expanding into harbor defense, where they can keep foreign submarines from penetrating the American coastline undetected.

It’s basically underwater listening through what the Navy calls “acoustic sensors,” built on fiber-optic technology instead of traditional ceramic listening arrays.

This kind of tech could be installed in shallow littoral waters where submarine Internet cables are most vulnerable to attack, especially from low-tech terrorists who could reach them with basic scuba equipment.

From there, the system is used to detect underwater sounds that might indicate, say, some terrorist sawing through a cable, allowing other assets to show up and check things out.

That’s where we’re headed.

Sincerely,

Byron King
for The Daily Reckoning

P.S. I’ll have specific analysis on individual companies with this technology in future issues of Tomorrow in Review. Sign up for free, right here, to make sure you get the latest news on these incredible investment opportunities.

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