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Europeans suffered 51 severe network outages in 2011

11 Oct 2012
European Union map

Nearly a dozen European Union (EU) countries suffered major network outages last year, according to a European commission report.

The 29-country survey found that 11 EU member states had 51 severe network outages in 2011, with 166 million users were affected by the outages. The report states that 2012 should expect a 10-fold increase in the number of EU network outages from the year prior.

The European Network and Information Security Agency's (Enisa) report found that almost half of all major outages were caused by hardware/software failure. Natural phenomena, such as poor weather, was found to be the second major cause of outages with 33 percent.

Weather-related outages caused the longest disruption. According to the report, an average outage caused by natural occurrences lasted 45 hours. Hardware/software caused outages, however, saw relatively shorter outages with an average of 17 hour down times.

"Natural phenomena like storms, floods and heavy snow have a big impact on the power supply of providers," read the report.

"Often these power cuts last several hours. In the incident reports we received, incidents caused by natural phenomena lasted 45 hours, on average."

The Enisa report found that mobile networks saw the highest rates of outage. Mobile phone networks were reported to have shared 60 per cent of the total outage totals. On average a mobile phone network outage hit about 400 users.

"Hardware/software failures are the most frequent cause of mobile communication outages, and this percentage is notably higher than for fixed telephony or fixed internet," read the report.

"This could be the result of higher complexity [of mobile networks], less redundancy, or simply due to the fact that the more modern networks use hardware and software that is less mature and less reliable."

Malicious attack based outages caused the least amount of shutdowns. In spite of the number high-profile attacks, attack based outages only caused six per cent of known blackouts.

This is the Enisa's first annual outage report but it plans to start releasing its reports each spring, starting in 2013.

If projections hold true the Enisa expects a major increase in outages going forward. According to projections, 2012 will see a 10-factor increase in outages.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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