Armenia was cut off from the internet on March 28.
It wasn’t the usual suspects: black ops, Borat, Bulgarian hackers, Chechen terrorists, Chinese computer scientists, CIA/NSA jamming, Israeli geniuses, AT&T drop zone, teenage computer prodigies, Turkish animus to Armenia, or the Russians replaying their invasion of Georgia a few years ago. It wasn’t a virus, Trojan horse, or worm.
It was a shovel, a plain, vanilla shovel without any electronic bells or whistles.
Imagine the power of the shovel. It can blackout an entire nation.
75 year old Hayastan Shakarian, a Georgian pensioner, who claims ignorance of the net, possessed felonious intent. We could, as some, call her a scrap metal hunter or dumpster diver, of which America possesses thousands. She was trying to dig up copper piping in Ksavi, 40 miles from the capitol of Tbilisi, to then sell on the scrap market.
She wanted the metal, whether it was in use or not. You can’t dig for gold in Georgia, but copper is abundant.
She did it without the ubiquitous metal detector, found on our tourist beaches, but rather blind luck.
She dug up something even more valuable than copper: the fiber optic cable which connects the internet from Europe to the southern Caucasus – all of Armenia, and much of Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Alas for Hayastan, the fiber optic cable had minimal value compared to copper, but triggered alarms in Tbilisi. She was caught in copper delecto.
She was arrested, and acquired a new nickname: the “Spade hacker.” The prosecutor said she will stand trial, but in the meantime because of a mitigating factor, her age, she was released. She faces a fine, community service, or a year in prison. Hayastan is fortunate in that her Georgian predecessors, Stalin and Beria, would have had a different fate for her.
Ironically, her ancestry is Armenian. Hence she is a Georgian-Armenia spade hacker, or GASH for short, symbolic of the fiber optic gash.