On Tuesday, an unknown person broke into an underground vault and sliced three high-capacity internet cables, disrupting service for various businesses and residents around Sacramento, California, USA Today reports.
This attack is part of a series of at least 11 that the FBI is currently investigating that stretch from the San Francisco Bay Area to Sacramento, according to the report. The attacks have generally occurred in concealed locations that are unmonitored by devices like security cameras.
“When it affects multiple companies and cities, it does become disturbing,” FBI Special Agent Greg Wuthrich told USA Today. “We definitely need the public’s assistance.”
While we normally think of internet crime as related to hacking and compromised personal data, physical attacks can wipe out coverage for a large swath of users. The fibre-optic cables that were targeted Tuesday are used to carry huge amounts of data between hubs before it’s distributed to homes and businesses on smaller networks.
But what was the motive for these attacks? At the present time, it’s unclear, but JJ Thompson, CEO of a security firm, told USA Today it could be a test. “When it’s situations that are scattered all in one geography, that raises the possibility that they are testing out capabilities, response times and impact. That is a security person’s nightmare.”
Though the FBI hasn’t commented on a possible motive, the relationship between the tech sector and the general population has been fraught with tension over the past few years in San Francisco. Protesters have accused companies like Google of callously driving residents out of the area, and destroying the unique culture of the Bay Area. In many ways, these recent attacks are a visceral reminder that technology can be broken by violent action.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.