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Cyberattack on Hawaii undersea communications cable thwarted by Homeland Security

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A major cyber attack targeting an underwater cable linking Hawaii’s telephone, internet, cable and cell phone service was foiled by federal agents with Homeland Security Investigations last week.

An international hacking group targeted infrastructure on Oahu by breaching a private company’s servers that manage an oceanic undersea cable that connects Hawaii and the Pacific region, according to a news release from HSI, the investigative unit of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

“This is only one of the many examples of cyber incidents that HSI has responded to in Hawaii and the Pacific Region,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge John F. Tobon, in a statement. “Not only do we aggressively pursue these bad actors, but we also provide significant support to the private sector victims.”

HSI agents acting on a tip from out-of-state colleagues identified the attack and took measures to block access, according to the release. Agents identified an international hacking group responsible for the attack and worked with international law enforcement partners in multiple countries to arrest a suspect, according to the release.

HSI did not immediately release the name of the private company in Hawaii, the country where the suspect was arrested or the name of the suspect. What the suspect and the international hacking group hoped to accomplish with the attack was not immediately detailed by investigators nor were potential criminal charges.

“HSI Honolulu is on the front lines of the cyber fight every day, and our expertise in this area is unmatched,” says Tobon. “We live in paradise, but that does not mean there is a diminished threat, particularly in the cyber world. Our goal is to interrupt the hackers before serious damage is done.”

Damage or disruption to critical telecommunications infrastructure in Hawaii was prevented, and there is no immediate threat at this time, according to Tobon.

HSI is responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through international trade, travel, and finance, according to homeland security.

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