What’s more, the parts of the system that are designed to be waterproof are also vulnerable. While pipes carrying streams of information along the ocean floor can withstand the stresses of the sea, these are very different than the cables buried on land. Ocean-faring tubing is endowed with “armor,” metal cabling and protective coating to keep water from its fiber-optic contents. “Of course the irony there,” Barford says, “is that those transoceanic cables have to come up above water at some point.” These landing points don’t have the same protections, and they happen to be right next to the ocean. Barford’s research shows that more than one thousand locations where cables meet—like the spots where the submarine tubes hit land—will be surrounded by water in less than two decades.