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Investigators halt Hawai’i underwater cable cyberattack


A cyberattack on an underwater cable was prevented by the Homeland Security Investigations Honolulu branch last week, officials said Tuesday.

The cable – which links Hawai’i and the Pacific Region to services like internet, cable and phone services – was not disrupted, however, a private company’s servers associated with the undersea cable were breached.

There are no threats at this time, and damage to telecommunications within the state was avoided, the agency reported.

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

Homeland Security Investigations, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, investigates transnational crimes and threats. A cyber-incident response team in Honolulu responded to the breach last week, which was flagged by mainland agents.

Investigators identified an international hacking group that was responsible for the attack. Arrests were made. The agency said no further information was released pending further law enforcement action.

“HSI Honolulu is on the frontlines of the cyber fight every day, and our expertise in this area is unmatched,” Tobon said. “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.”

Sabrina Bodon was Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter.
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