Inside The Time A 75-Year-Old Woman Once Cut Off The Internet For An Entire Country

We like to think of our internet connectivity as being relatively secure. We've all experienced local outages and shutdowns, times when the WiFi signal was weak or momentarily nonexistent. Even so, we rely heavily on the labyrinth of tiny fiberoptic cables that send these internet signals across the globe. Surely, these cables wouldn't let us down — not all of society at once anyway.

Modern existence somewhat hinges on this assumption. After all, we depend on internet access for things like international trade and transit, not to mention communication, education, and the storing and transfer of vital information (via INSH).

Think about it this way: If the entire country lost its internet connection, how could you get more information about that tiny mole you discovered on the inside of your right arm or figure out which side of your rental car the gas tank is on? Just imagine, all those savvy TikTok videos that teach us how to grow lettuce from lettuce, all those crafty filters that morph our faces into odd-looking animals to the point of being completely unrecognizable — gone!

Not only can an entire country lose its internet at the hands of just about anyone, but scarier still, this has already happened in a case where a 75-year-old woman took out the WiFi in all of Armenia (per The Guardian).

A 75-year-old lady in Georgia disabled the internet for all of Armenia

Imagine a scenario where 3.2 million internet users suddenly lose access to the web simultaneously. Worse yet, they all live in the same country, meaning the loss is affecting them on both a local and national level. According to The Guardian, this is precisely what happened when a 75-year-old lady known to the public by only her street name, the "spade-hacker," struck. With just the flick of her wrist, this notorious cutter took out the internet service in all of Armenia, rendering the whole country internet-less for more than five hours.

At this point, you're probably wondering how the senior managed to pull off this seemingly impossible feat. Had she trained on the dark web perhaps, studying for years under other notorious hackers whose nicknames are equally ominous? Was she some sort of master of code or computer science? It would seem that disabling the internet for an entire country is something most people couldn't pull off no matter how hard they tried.

The shocking twist, according to BBC, is that she didn't try. The "spade-hacker" was actually a poor pensioner trying to strike it rich by digging for copper. In fact, she cut off the internet by accident, or at least that's what the evidence suggests.

In a mad search for copper, the woman cut vital internet cables

The Guardian reports that the spade-hacker was pretty oblivious to the high-level crime she committed on that ill-fated March evening when television news reporters were forced to stare blankly into the void and social media influencers set their cell phones down in collective horror. Sure, the senior citizen had managed to break the internet, a feat most people thought could only happen by logging in online, but sources suggest it was all a big misunderstanding.

According to BBC News, the woman identified only as the spade-hacker was actually digging for copper when she accidentally struck a fiber-optic cable that links all of Armenia's internet. Adding to the peculiarity, this cable was located in the Georgian village of Ksani. This region is most famous for being home to the towering Ksani Fortress (via Georgian Travel Guide), but the locals' love of digging for copper is also intriguing.

According to Blue Ridge Mountains, this region of Georgia is a proud part of The Copper Basin, and has a rich history of excavating the mineral. The 75-year-old pension recipient admits she was digging for copper and unwittingly severing fiber-optic cables with her spade along the way (per Metro). Spokesperson Giorgi Ionatamishvili claims the wires should have been secure and impossible to get to. He blames extreme weather and local mudslides for the blunder, but the police might just blame the elderly lady who took the cables out with her gardening tool — a spade.

Did the 75-year-old spade-hacker go to jail?

At the time of the alleged crime, police barricaded the area where the elderly woman damaged the cables that run just below the railroad tracks and are unofficially referred to as the "Fiver-Optic Backbone" of Armenian Wi-Fi (via Express). She reportedly faced a maximum of three years in prison for the perceived crime, although officials did release her "on account of her old age" (per The Guardian). After slicing through the essential internet cables with her garden spade and leaving millions without Wi-Fi, she was charged with destruction of property, but it is unclear whether she was ever convicted, let alone sentenced for the debacle. Oddly enough, her story was absent from major news headlines for approximately four years.

In 2015, the unnamed woman reemerged to be photographed and to tell her side of the story. Her official statement was short but clear.

"I have no idea what the internet is," she said.