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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
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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.

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Customers compare situation to Leave The World Behind

It’s only a few months since the release of Leave The World Behind, Netflix’s film with a tag line that does feel a little familiar today:

Of course, there is internet, and most phones are still working. But it is a reminder that such an outage is possible.

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 05:45
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AT&T referred customers to ‘network update’ page

AT&T pointed affected customers to a special page on its website during the outage. It’s not very detailed:

“Some of our customers are experiencing wireless service interruptions this morning. Our network teams took immediate action and so far three-quarters of our network has been restored. We are working as quickly as possible to restore service to remaining customers.”

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 06:45
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Residents in the following cities reported the most outages

Residents in four Texas cities and other cities in the Midwest and on the east coast reported the most amount of service disruptions, according to Downdetector, a website that tracks that information.

Impacted people lived in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. Meanwhile, other residents who struggled to get cell service were mainly in Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, Miami and Indianapolis.

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 07:45
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WiFi calling isn’t the only way to avoid the phone network

On Thursday, AT&T recommended that affected users get onto WiFi and use that to call people. (Instructions are below.)

But there are plenty of other ways of communicating without a phone connection, too.

You can download maps offline, for instance (Google has long allowed this, and Apple Maps has recently introduced it, too). And you can download music and videos onto your phone ready for any long journeys.

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 08:45
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White House says no evidence AT&T outage is 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.”

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 09:45
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National Association of Broadcasters advocates on the importance of AM radio amid outages

“Today’s cell service outage is another example of the critical need to keep AM radio in cars,” the association said in a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter. “When the internet is out, power lines are down and cellphones can’t find a signal, AM radio is there, providing reliable life-saving alerts & updates.”

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 10:45
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Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency working with AT&T

“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.

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 11:45
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AT&T apologises to customers

AT&T has sent an array of different messages to affected customers today. But they are mostly along the lines of the below:

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that is happening and some of our customers are experiencing wireless service interruptions this morning. We are working urgently to restore service to them. We encourage the use of Wi-Fi calling until service is restored.”

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 12:45
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AT&T says its entire network has been restored after an hours-long outage

“We have restored wireless service to all our affected customers,” the company said in an emailed statement. 

“We sincerely apologize to them.  Keeping our customers connected remains our top priority, and we are taking steps to ensure our customers do not experience this again in the future.”

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 13:45
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70,000 people went without service during outage peak

About 70,000 customers went without service at the peak of the outage, according to Downdetector, a site that tracks the data.

AT&T said it had restored all of its network around 3pm.

Michelle Del Rey23 February 2024 14:45

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