Rogue squirrel causes major computer network outage at MUHC
Published Wednesday, June 27, 2018 9:53AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 27, 2018 7:50PM EDT
The McGill University Health Centre might be feeling a little squirrely after one of the critters appears to have accidentally caused a power outage that damaged their computer network.
The rodent culprit was found outside the MUHC’s circuit breaker box on De Maisonneuve Blvd. and is believed to have gotten inside and damaged equipment before being electrocuted.
A spokesperson for Hydro-Quebec said the animal touched two pieces of equipment at the same time, turning the animal into a conductor and causing a short circuit.
Hydro-Quebec workers installed an additional casing to the unit to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.
The squirrel did not survive.
It was the same power outage that affected 25,000 people in NDG starting at 6:47 a.m. on Tuesday. Power was restored at 8:15 a.m.
A spokesperson for the MUHC said the outage severely damaged the motherboards for six servers, three switches and three load balancers, along with multiple storage failures.
The matter is raising questions about the system’s vulnerability.
It is not unusual for squirrels to knock out part of the power grid. Rodents are, in fact, behind about half of the power failures in North America.
Two years ago, The Washington Post even mapped the matter: A terrifying and hilarious map of squirrel attacks on the U.S. power grid.
Though the NDG outage was resolved relatively quickly, the problems at the MUHC persisted – the computer network was down until early evening.
Steve Waterhouse, former systems security officer of the department of National Defence said the MUHC will have to make improvements to protect its equipment.
“Maybe they didn’t have enough time to do the proper testing, or they did the testing – bad luck hit them and the system just crashed on them. It was beyond crashing – it was fried, literally. It could be either of those two,” he said. “Definitely this will be a lesson to learn and then go back to the drawing board, and look again at all the power distributions and especially power protection mechanisms so that it doesn’t come back and hit them in the face again.”
The MUHC wouldn't say whether or not it has a generator, but said it is looking into what caused the network failure to make the necessary corrections.