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As it happenedended1708714892

AT&T apologizes for massive system failure but rules out cyber attack

Customers were left in the dark as phone networks across the US went offline

Andrew Griffin,Michelle Del Rey
Friday 23 February 2024 19:01 GMT
AT&T users facing cell service outages nationwide

AT&T has said that a massive outage that left people unable to make calls – including to 911 – was not caused by a cyber attack.

The provider said thew outage was caused by “the application and execution of an incorrect process” during network expansion. “We are continuing our assessment of today’s outage to ensure we keep delivering the service that our customers deserve,” the statement read.

The White House echoed this saying that there was no evidence the outage was caused by a cyber attack

According to CNN, John Kirby, a National Security spokesman, said the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are looking into the Thursday incident and contacting partners to “see what we can do from a federal perspective to lend a hand to their investigative efforts to figure out what happened there.”

Still, he said, officials are unsure about what caused the widespread outage.

“The bottom line is we don’t have all the answers to that. I mean, this just happened earlier today. And so we’re working very hard to see if we can get to the ground truth of exactly what happened.”

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is now working with AT&T to get to the root of the issue.

“CISA is aware of the reports and we are working closely with AT&T to understand the cause of the outage and its impacts, and stand ready to offer any assistance needed,” the agency’s Executive Assistant Director for Cybersecurity, Eric Goldstein, said in a statement.

The outage, which began early on Thursday, led to warnings from emergency services and advice from companies to get around the issue.

AT&T has around 250 million customers, making it the US’s biggest phone network by some distance. The company said all its entire network had been restored around 3pm ET.

Follow for all the latest on the outage below.


iPhones offer communication through satellites

Recent iPhones (the 14 and 15) include a new satellite connectivity feature that lets them connect to the world through satellites rather than traditional phone connections. It’s explained here.

You should be able to use that even if you are part of the AT&T outage. But note that it’s mostly intended for emergency situations – and that it comes with its own restrictions, such as requiring sight of the sky.

Michelle Del Rey22 February 2024 21:20

Emergency services advised people to use other phones

This was a fairly representative message from emergency services across the US. They said they were aware of the problem and advised people to try to use different phones – and not to call 911 just to check whether it works.

Michelle Del Rey22 February 2024 23:45

Customers ask for credit in response to outage

Many of AT&T’s customers are calling on the company to offer some credit in return for the outage. (The network has apologised, but not yet said anything about whether there will be any kind of compensation.)

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 00:45

AT&T says outage caused by ‘incorrect process’ not cyber attack

In a statement updating customers later on Thursday, AT&T ruled out that the outage was caused by a cyber attack.

“Based on our initial review, we believe that today’s outage was caused by the application and execution of an incorrect process used as we were expanding our network, not a cyber attack,” the provider said.

“We are continuing our assessment of today’s outage to ensure we keep delivering the service that our customers deserve.”

Mike Bedigan23 February 2024 01:30

How to use Wi-Fi calling

AT&T has advised affected customers to use WiFi calling. As the name suggests, that relies on WiFi and the internet to make calls, rather than the phone network. As such, it gets around the problems with the phone network (but does of course rely on you having access to a WiFi connection).

It’s turned on by opening up the Settings app on your iPhone or Android. Press “Cellular” on an iPhone or “Connection” on an Android, and then choose the WiFi calling option, which will allow you to turn it on and choose important settings.

You can find more information on AT&T’s website here.

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 01:45

TikToker shows airport chaos caused by AT&T outage

Amid the phone service outage, one person named Leo took to TikTok to show what effect the outage had on people who were at the airport.

Brittany Miller has the full story here:

TikToker shows airport chaos caused by AT&T outage

‘So many people couldn’t pull up their tickets on their phones, airport wifi is slow and congested, and ticketing lines are chaotic,’ TikToker said

Mike Bedigan23 February 2024 02:15

Other networks appeared to be hit by AT&T outage

On tracking website Down Detector, as well as in complaints on Twitter, customers at rival networks such as Verizon and T-Mobile also complained about an outage.

But it appears that is just an effect of the AT&T outage, and is happening because people on that network are unable to call others. Both Verizon and T-Mobile have denied that they are having issues.

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 02:45

AT&T says massive national outage caused by ‘incorrect process’ not cyber attack

AT&T has apologised for the widespread outages that affected tens of thousands of consumers, but said that the network failure was not due to a cyber attack.

Read the full story here:

AT&T apologizes for hours-long system outage: Live updates

Customers were left in the dark as phone networks across the US went offline

Mike Bedigan23 February 2024 03:15

Was outage caused by a solar flare?

Probably not, says Ryan French, an astrophysicist.

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 03:45

Ron DeSantis addressed AT&T outage during news conference

“Some of you may not have cell phone service this morning,” Mr DeSantis said while speaking to a crowd about the work of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District on Thursday.

“You think about your daily life like...honestly it’s like imagine if we had an EMP attack or something like what would end up happening in this country,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a good thought.”

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 04:45

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