Collapse at Rogers, soul-searching elsewhere

If a 4-year-old can recount the unfortunate consequences of a power outage, the same cannot be said of computer network failures. Adults are confused too. But we now know that a failed update from a single provider Interac Payments, 911 Calls, Courts, Service Canada, Travelers (ArrivalCAN), alarm systems and telemedicine.

Posted at 6:15am

Do you take the time to make backup copies of all the documents on your PC? Not me. And, out of sheer recklessness, I’ve never installed any software that does this job automatically. All laptop content provided by The press is in turn in a cloud that I, eyes closed, perhaps naively, trust.

In my defense, it’s not my expertise or my job, and if I lose the photos from my trip to Italy in 2009, I’ll be the only one who regrets it.

When the Rogers Communications system crashes for almost two days, the effects are immensely more annoying. For millions of people. From one end of the country to the other. It was not for nothing that an application for permission to exercise a class action lawsuit was filed in the Montreal court on Monday morning. No less than $400 per customer (Rogers, Fido or Chatr) will be requested in compensation for services not used on July 8th or July 9th (or both).

But the most amazing thing about this whole blackout story – which appears to be the biggest ever in the country – is the weakness of the infrastructures, which we envisioned as solid.

“That a national banking network like Interac has what is called a single point of failure [single point of failure], it is not normal. They announced in a tweet that they had a second supplier. As an expert, I said to myself, “Wow, did it take a breakdown to realize you had this problem?” explains Éric Parent, CEO of EVA Technologies.

The expert agrees that we can blame Rogers, but that “the real problem is having critical services that depend on a single provider”. In his opinion, “you’re no smarter without a plan B” than the supplier who got you into trouble.

If your mission is important and you take a highway, you need to know if there are alternative ways to get to your destination, stresses Éric Parent. “That’s the basis! »

“That customers of all financial institutions are unable to transact because only one of the telecom operators is down is staggering! The architecture of the Interac network is like a house of cards that collapses as soon as a card is removed! », Jean Beaulieu, computer consultant with thirty years of experience, is also surprised.

Cyology Labs president and founder and cybersecurity expert Terry Cutler is softer on all of the companies that suffered from the Rogers outage. Because IT pros need to assess the risks before taking costly security measures, he says. “What’s the probability that Rogers will crash?” It’s so rare for something like this to happen. »

But it happened. The network, which claims to be “the most reliable in the country,” has collapsed, to everyone’s surprise.

And from that point on, Interac’s negligence or wise decision to have only one supplier hit dealers hard.

Sales were lost because credit cards didn’t work everywhere. Transaction fees have also skyrocketed as many customers swap their debit card for their more expensive Mastercard or Visa for retailers.

Restaurants without phones also missed reservations for the weekend. Things were even worse in other provinces where Rogers provides internet services than in Quebec. As of Friday, businesses couldn’t place orders, complete sales online, or even communicate with their employees.

All of this in a blurry and frustrating context for several hours, Rogers has chosen to remain silent. “It was a bit like nothing,” laments Jasmin Guénette, vice president of national affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). In the age of instant messaging on Twitter, that’s hard to justify. Even if in many cases the information would not have been provided.

In British Columbia, a hotline for people committing suicide or in crisis has shut down. Ringing 911 was difficult, if not impossible, in Toronto and Ottawa. It doesn’t sound very serious. It is a miracle that no tragic consequences made headlines.

As Rogers investigates to find out what happened, other organizations have questions about their own reliability.

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