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Lesson learnt from outage in the Netherlands: Failure of having an active BCP

The Netherlands was hit in mid June 2019 by its largest telecommunications outage in years, with the 112 emergency number knocked out across the country. The disruption, which lasted few hours, originated from national carrier KPN, and affected other providers linked to its network.

Landlines and mobile phones linked to the KPN network were also affected, but it was the failure of the national emergency line that was most worrying. Emergency services responded by putting out alternative contact information on social media. A Director of KPN said the network had been backed up to prevent any malfunction, but the backups had not worked.

How bad was the outage? Apparently when the public tried to dial the 112 emergency services number, they were directed to contact a number used by the editors of a newspaper. When the mistake was realised, an alert was send out with the correct number. As expected the public is clamouring for answer as to why this happened and the government as usual with other governments around the world responded by saying they would investigate the mistake.

KPN obviously would have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in emergencies like this as it is the national telco. Were the BCP tested regularly and if it was tested, does it encompassed the emergency lines or it was only for the backup of the network system for fear of a cyber attack against their system by hackers groups?


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