The audit report submitted by Anssi on the management by Orange of the failure of June 2, 2021 emergency numbers hit the incumbent operator. Hazardous orders on equipment, slowness in reporting information, and finally a lack of technical advice are singled out. The government has decided to seize Arcep and will organize a crisis exercise every 6 months on emergency calls.
Stephane Richard, CEO of Orange, will have to learn the lessons of the Anssi report pointing to internal dysfunctions in the management of the crisis on emergency calls. (Photo credit: DR)
It was expected to inform the management of the failure of emergency numbers on June 2, 2021 by Orange. The Anssi report commissioned by the government after this dysfunction has just been returned and tackles the incumbent operator. As a preamble, the report recalls the chronology of events. The incident began at 4:45 p.m. on June 2 when the Samu and other emergency services noted a sharp drop in the number of calls. The alert was given and two hours later an interministerial cell was set up to find alternative solutions. At the same time, Orange is also its cell of crisis "slowly", slips Antoine Berthier, sector coordinator on telecommunications at Anssi in charge of the report.
Hazardous orders on call servers
It recalls the technical aspect of emergency calls where there is a cohabitation between the PSTN technology (switched telecom network) used by the emergency services and those which pass via the mobile network or the boxes relying on the IP network. To make the link between the two worlds, the operator Orange has specific equipment called call server, 6 in this case provided by Italtel. It was through them that the incident happened. The report rules out a cyberattack from the start and focuses on 3 factors: “risky orders, in a limited time and a pre-existing bug in the equipment”.
On the first point, AntoineBerthier speaks of "a routine procedure passed in an unusual order, these commands then triggered a bug in the call servers". He adds that this software error made "memory full and restart the equipment in a loop." On the tight time point, “Orders were placed on all 6 servers at the same time. The good practice is to start testing a command on a call server and to see if it happens or if it triggers the bug, ”tackles the reporter. In its internal audit, operator n 'mentioned that the software bug to explain the failure .
Referral to Arcep and crisis exercise every 6 months
If Orange's fault is established, the government wants to draw the consequences. Cedric O, secretary of state in charge of digital, has decided to contact Arcep by the end of July to find out whether the incumbent hasmet its emergency number obligations. This referral could result in a sanction from Orange at the end of the procedure. To strengthen these obligations, which affect all operators, the executive will change the regulatory and legislative framework, particularly on alert times and details of the outage. Here again, the report points to Orange's shortcomings in reporting information and the lack of technical advice to resolve the failure during the crisis.
Finally, the implementation of a crisis exercise every 6 months on emergency calls to prevent such an incident from happening again. Asked about a possible replacement of the current call servers, the government believes that it is hardly appropriate to change, arguing that there are few providers on this PSTN technology. It remains to be seen whether the families of victims in connection with this blackout will turn against Orange. The executive mentions 6 poten peopletally impacted by this dysfunction.