Monday 18 July 2011
Armazi, Georgia - 75-year-old woman arrested for single-handedly cutting off the internet in Georgia and Armenia
Hayastan Shakarian was arrested for single-handedly cutting off the Internet in Georgia and Armenia on March 28.
In a case that has attracted worldwide interest, pensioner Hayastan Shakarian is accused of forcing thousands of people in both countries offline for hours after hacking into a fibre-optic cable while digging for scrap metal.
But Shakarian, a Georgian of Armenian origin, told AFP that she was just a "poor old woman" who was not capable of committing such a crime.
"I did not cut this cable. Physically, I could not do it," she said, repeatedly bursting into tears as she spoke.
Ms Shakarian, who lives in the poverty-stricken Georgian village of Armazi, around 10 miles from the capital Tbilisi, said that she had only been collecting firewood.
"I have no idea what the internet is," she added.
The pensioner has been charged with damaging property and could face up to three years in prison if convicted.
"My mother is innocent. She is crying all the time. She is so scared," said her son, Sergo Shakarian.
The Georgian interior ministry said that despite her claims to innocence, Ms Shakarian had already confessed to cutting the fibre-optic cable.
The company that owns the fibre-optic cable, Georgian Railway Telecom, said that the damage was serious, causing 90 per cent of private and corporate internet users in neighbouring Armenia to lose access for nearly 12 hours while also hitting Georgian internet service providers.
The episode is a timely reminder that all it takes in our hi-tech world to shut down thousands of companies for a day is a determined old lady with a spade.
Research carried out in October 2010 by Avanti Communications offered a snapshot of just how fundamental the internet had become to businesses.The survey of companies worldwide suggested only 1% could function adequately without the internet.
More than a quarter (27%) of those surveyed said they could not function at all if the internet went down, and one in five said a week without being online would be the death of their company.
"In the past, network downtime might have prevented a batch of communication at the end of the day," says Chris Kimm, vice-president network field operations EMEA at Verizon Business.
"Today it could mean no phones, no e-mail, no customer database, no ordering systems, no supply chain visibility and effectively, no capability to conduct business."
Ian Finlay, group chief information officer at Claranet, says: "The key message is if you are going to avoid the worst you have plan for it and for each business the worst will be different."
Broken cable duct Fibre optic cables that lie on top of utility pipes are at risk whenever work is done near them
Some solutions on offer are quite straightforward. One network provider, Geo, runs all its cable through the Victorian sewers in London.
This solves one of the major problems that makes telecoms lines in many countries susceptible to being cut - they are laid on top of utility pipes.
Not only does this mean they are mere centimetres under the ground - but whenever repairs are done to utilities, the workmen have to get past the fibre optic wires first, meaning inevitable incidences of cuts.
Other technologies on offer to providers - which will in turn help their customer stay connected - are mind-boggling.
For example, a company called OptaSense offers to stop potential breaks in service by listening to any threats as they approach.
Using advanced sonar techniques, the company converts the fibre optic cable carrying the precious internet signal into an acoustic microphone.
It can then tell the network provider exactly what is getting too close for comfort - be it a vehicle, human footsteps, digging or drilling.
Posted by sysiphus at 16:04