Terry Cutler – The Ethical Hacker
Home » Cyber Security Today, Week in Review for Friday, July 22, 2022
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Cyber Security Today, Week in Review for Friday, July 22, 2022

Howard: Let’s start with something that I didn’t get a chance to discuss last week…and that’s the vast service outage suffered by Rogers subscribers two weeks ago.  Almost its entire communications network — internet and cellular — went down for hours. That hit business, government departments and hospitals. Some people were unable to make 911 calls. It was an unprecedented event and one that left the company open to complaints that it doesn’t have resiliency. 

Rogers blamed the outage on a maintenance update by its programmers to its core network, which caused some of our routers to malfunction. Today Rogers will present a report to this country’s telecom regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, on what happened and what it plans to do to prevent a recurrence. Hopefully, a version that hasn’t been too sanitized will be made public. There will also be Parliamentary hearings. Terry, what did you think when this happened? Defensible or inexcusable?

Terry: We’ve seen these malfunctions with other vendors and suppliers in the past. So, when I saw this happening, I thought an update had gone wrong, or there was something wrong with the core switch. It came down to three things: Human error, a disgruntled employee or, worse, a cyber-attack from Russia because of the new sanctions imposed by the Canadian government.

Howard: But Rogers says it was a maintenance update; it was entirely our fault. It wasn’t an update from a third-party supplier. What struck me is that network maintenance updates wouldn’t be uncommon at any telecom carrier. So why would this one have had such a huge impact?

Terry: In my experience, even updating a computer or switch can be a problem. If a switch was set in limbo, for example, if it was malfunctioning but still showed signs that it was perfectly fine, the moment you update, it could malfunction. IT guys are always sweating whenever they’re doing a firmware update or something because if it goes wrong, it’ll fry the device. 

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