France cybersecurity agency to audit Orange networks after outage


FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past the logo of French telecom operator Orange at the company headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris, France, June 3, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

June 4, 2021

PARIS (Reuters) -France told its cybersecurity watchdog on Friday to conduct an audit of Orange’s network after an outage blocked emergency calls for several hours.

Orange chief executive Stephane Richard also said he was launching an internal inquiry into the disruption which has left France’s largest telecom operator facing mounting political pressure. The results would be ready within seven days, he said.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin ordered the audit in a letter, seen by Reuters, to the head of the National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (ANSSI).

They wanted checks to evaluate “measures taken by the operator … notably those taken to ensure the routing of urgent communications,” the letter said.

Health minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday it was too soon to say whether there was any link between the outage and three to four deaths recorded during the period. It began on Wednesday afternoon, eased overnight and was fixed by Thursday.

President Emmanuel Macron said he was “very concerned” by the incident. The French government and state bank Bpifrance together hold around 23% of Orange’s share capital, making the French state Orange’s biggest individual shareholder.

Richard on Thursday blamed the outage on a rare software failure and ruled out an attack, human error or maintenance issues.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Dominique Vidalon, Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Andrew Heavens)

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