A 75 year old woman, who was just trying to scrape out a living by digging up copper wire to sell, inadvertently shut down the internet for two countries on March 28. The woman somehow unearthed and cut the fiber optic cable running between Georgia and Armenia, shutting down online access for a good part of the day, 5 hours in Georgia and 12 in Armenia.
She was arrested on evidence from several witnesses, but was “temporarily released due to her old age,” ministry spokesman Zurab Gvenetadze of Georgia. She still may face charges, however. The cable, belonging to Georgian Railway Telecom LLC, suffered “massive and catastrophic” damage, according the company spokesman.
Since Georgia provides 90% of Armenia’s internet as well, it was a double play of destruction. The telecom company doesn’t know how the woman came across the cable, which was supposed to be secure, but severe weather and mudslides might have been to blame.
The fiber optic link was installed in 2008, and cost $76 million. The woman was dubbed “the spade hacker” by local media, but has not been otherwise named. She faces up to three years in prison if convicted. But really, she’s 75, and it was a (mostly) honest mistake. Scavenging for copper is common in the former Soviet Union, and some hunters have even been known to use tractors to unearth it.