National emergency call failure: victims and an audit at Orange (update)

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The incident affecting emergency calls following a technical problem at Orange was resolved overnight, but the system was still under surveillance this morning. The provisional numbers also remain active. The Minister of the Interior deplored the deaths linked to the inability to call the emergency services and ordered an external audit on the management of the breakdown by the operator.

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“Serious and unacceptable” is how Gérald Darmanin described the dysfunctions of the emergency calls that occurred on the evening of June 2. They touched the numbers 15-17-18-112 in several departments including in the overseas departments. The Ministry of the Interior quickly set up alternative calls with no less than 400 numbers to overcome this problem. He recalled in a press conference on Thursday that they alone, the 18th, 17th and 15th generate more than 150,000 calls per day. The network could be reestablished around midnight, but Place Beauvau specifies that the provisional numbers will still be active all morning.

The origin of the failure is attributable to Orange, which concentrates all the emergency calls for the other operators. According to Olivier Véran, Minister of Health, interviewed yesterday at the 8 p.m. newspaper, it would be a maintenance error at the operator. According to Le Figaro, one or more routers would have been changed and the operation would have gone badly. For his part, Gérald Darmanin awaited discussions with the CEO of Orange to find out more and underlines “that a cyberattack cannot be ruled out”. In an interview with our colleagues from zinfos974, the director of Orange Réunion indicates, “we had an overall incident on the VoIP and ToIP interconnection platforms which are used for special numbers”. He adds, “When the servers fall, it snowballs and the calls could not be routed.”

A diligent external audit

One thing is certain, it is that Orange will have to explain itself and especially the government will ask the services of the State to “carry out an external audit” to determine “the causes and the consequences of this incident, as well as the information feedback procedures ”. The services of the Ministry of the Interior, the Economy, Arcep and also ANSSI will be mobilized for this audit. The latter will have to answer several questions: Why did maintenance operations take place in the middle of the day and not at night? Are there redundancy systems and why have they not tripped? Etc. An uncomfortable position for the operator who is regularly pinned down for negligence on the copper network.

The question of responsibility will also arise with regard to the human toll of this giant blackout. In his press conference, Gérald Darmanin mentioned three people who died in connection with this affair. One in Morbihan, victim of a stroke and two others in Reunion. However, the Minister stresses that it is still too early to draw up a definitive assessment.

MAY : Stéphane Richard, CEO of Orange, returned to the failure of emergency calls in the TF1 1pm newscast. He said, “Around 4.30pm yesterday, we noticed the start of a malfunction on critical network equipment. It is a platform that routes all calls from a landline or mobile to emergency numbers. It should be understood that this platform is not a computer, it is six sites spread over six different places which are all redundant: one can take the place of the other in the event of failure. And this system is, by architecture, extremely robust, extremely secure. For a reason that we do not know at the moment, which can be a maintenance operation – a priori not -, which is – certainly not – an external attack, but it is more probably a software failure that affected the all the sites at the same time. It had never happened, it’s serious but extremely rare. ”

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