As the internet service of KT, South Korea’s backbone network provider, suffered an outage for about an hour on Monday, people’s lives were paralyzed. Financial transactions were suspended, delivery orders were not made, and online classes of school were interrupted. As corporate work was suspended, the whole country was in chaos. KT first announced that the outage was caused by an attack from an external party and later said it was due to a network error. After putting the entire country in confusion, the company is busy blaming others.
KT revealed on Monday that it was caused by a routing error. There was an error in the process of finding a data transmission path at a local facility, which overloaded specific routes and caused a series of incidents. This means that an error in a facility caused the paralysis of the entire communication network. The national backbone network should not be this poor.
In 2018, KT suffered a network outage due to a fire in its Ahyeon office in Seoul. Following the event, the company said it secured a bypass to ensure internet connectivity despite an incident in a transmission path. However, the bypass didn’t work this time. Therefore, it is believed that the recent outage was caused by human error due to the lack of prevention even after the previous experience. Despite this, KT is blaming its partner company in charge of facility maintenance.
Immediately after the outage, KT pointed to a cyber attack as a cause. If the backbone network was indeed attacked, it is a severe issue that cannot be revealed casually. Two hours later, it changed its initial announcement, which was careless and confusing. Compensation for damages is also uncertain as compensation is warranted only when service is suspended for three hours or longer according to KT’s terms and conditions, which are unacceptable as even a few seconds of outage can cause damages.
In a society where everything is connected via information technology, communication network outage is a disaster. A company with poor prevention and crisis response should not be in charge of the national communication network. KT should rigorously identify the cause of the outage and announce recurrence prevention measures to prove its qualification. Emergency facilities, including hospitals, should be equipped with another company’s communication network, rather than using only one company’s service. The government should reexamine the entire national communication network from prevention to crisis response.