A new report has warned the country's security and economy could be dealt a "crippling blow" if an attack on the UK's network of undersea communication cables was successful.

Written for Policy Exchange, by Conservative MP Rishi Sunak, the report states 97% of global communications are transmitted through fiber-optic carrying cables, which remain "uniquely vulnerable" to sabotage.

He told Forces Network's Ali Gibson that the threat to Britain's security and prosperity is 'very serious'.

The report said: "Whether from terrorist activity or an increasingly bellicose Russian naval presence, the threat of these vulnerabilities being exploited is growing.

"A successful attack would deal a crippling blow to Britain's security and prosperity. The threat is nothing short of existential."

"The result would be to damage commerce and disrupt government-to-government communications, potentially leading to economic turmoil and civil disorder."

A trawler in Skagen harbour, credit John Nuttall
The report warns trawlers could also be used to carry out attacks on the cables (Credit John Nuttall)

The report went on to say that even though they are extremely important their locations are publically known.

It added that cables that come ashore at just a few 'landing sites' in the UK could make a tempting target for terrorists.

A fishing trawler equipped with deep-sea grappling hooks could carry out a successful attack on the cables at sea, while a major threat could come from submarine warfare, according to the report.

It highlighted the way that during the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia "easily" cut all digital communications from the peninsula.

It said that the government's next Strategic Defence and Security Review should specifically address threats to Britain's security from attacks on the undersea cable infrastructure.

A government spokesman said that any threat to Britain's infrastructure was taken "extremely seriously", adding:

"We are continuously working with industry to ensure our sub-sea cable network is secure and have a variety of tools to monitor potentially-hostile maritime activity."