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5 Things You Must Know About The Massive AT&T Network Outage

5 Things You Must Know About The Massive AT&T Network Outage

Due to a nearly 12-hour AT&T network outage on Thursday, tens of thousands of Americans experienced difficulties making phone calls, sending messages, contacting emergency services, or even accessing the internet.

Additionally, according to at least one police agency, a temporary surge of people calling the 911 line from their cell phones to check if their calls would be received occurred.

It makes sense to be concerned about a big cell network outage that impacted over 70,000 subscribers at one point.

In addition to more critical duties like phoning for help when in danger, people have become extremely dependent on their cell phones for things like staying in touch with friends and family, getting directions, accessing the internet, and completing two-factor authentication for website logins.

Although there is now no proof that bad actors were responsible for the outage, the incident also swiftly prompted doubts about whether malicious behavior could have caused the outage and could pose a continuing threat to US cell networks.

By approximately 3 pm ET, AT&T has fully restored wireless service to all of its customers. The firm expressed its heartfelt apologies to them.

What you should know about the outage is as follows:

Who Was Impacted From AT&T Network Outage?

Customers of competing providers Verizon and T-Mobile may not have noticed the problem on Thursday if they don’t have friends or relatives who use AT&T.

However, thousands of AT&T users started to complain about problems using their mobile devices to text, phone, and browse the internet early on Thursday morning. At one point, the digital service tracking website DownDetector received reports of outages from almost 74,000 AT&T subscribers. Since the figure only includes self-reported outages, likely, a larger number of customers were impacted.

After a significant, countrywide outage, AT&T claims that service has been restored. Authorities are looking into
AT&T had experienced intermittent outages this week, including a brief 911 outage in some areas of the Southeast, before Thursday’s catastrophe. Long-lasting national outages are infrequent, despite occasional regional outages.

The number of consumers impacted by the outage on Thursday started to decrease within a few hours. And the business declared that the problem had been completely fixed by about 3 p.m. ET.

Numerous municipal administrations declared on Thursday that the AT&T outage was causing problems and that, in certain situations, AT&T customers would not be able to contact emergency services and would instead need to use a landline or a cell phone from a competing carrier. Officials from the New York Police Department informed CNN that AT&T customers could not use their phones to send or receive emails on Thursday morning unless they were linked to Wi-Fi.

A representative for AT&T asserted that the company’s FirstNet network continued to function in spite of the outage. FirstNet is marketed as a more reliable network than the AT&T commercial network and offers coverage for first responders, such as police and fire departments. It makes use of both its own infrastructure and the larger network of AT&T.

Why Did The AT&T Network Down?

In a Thursday night update, AT&T stated that it did not think the disruption was caused by a hack.

“After conducting a preliminary analysis, we have concluded that the reason for today’s outage was not a cyberattack, but rather the application and execution of an improper process utilized during our network expansion. To make sure we continue providing the service that our customers deserve, we are continuing to evaluate today’s outage,” the firm stated on Facebook.

Government Officials Statment On The Incident

Some federal agencies are looking into the incident. This covers the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC stated in a statement on Thursday afternoon on X, “We are aware of the reported wireless outages, and our Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is actively investigating.” “We maintain communication with AT&T, FirstNet, and other public safety authorities.”

Meanwhile, the FBI informed CNN in a statement that it is speaking with AT&T about the disruption. The FBI statement also stated, “Should we learn of any malicious activity, we will respond accordingly.”

In response, the White House said on Thursday that while it is in communication with AT&T on network disruptions, it is still unsure of the exact cause of the outages.

According to John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House National Security, the effort is ongoing. “Ultimately, we don’t possess all the solutions to that,” Kirby stated on Thursday afternoon. Therefore, we’re putting a lot of effort into trying to determine the precise facts of what transpired.

What was AT&T’s response?

By midday Eastern time, AT&T claimed to have taken “immediate action” to restore roughly three-quarters of the network. Then, around 12 hours after the outages started, AT&T declared that service for all impacted customers had been fully restored.

“We genuinely apologize to them (clients),” the business released a statement. “Maintaining customer connectivity is our primary focus, and we are implementing measures to guarantee that customers don’t encounter similar issues in the future.”

Although it’s not a given, telecom industry observers speculate that AT&T would be penalized for the 911 failures.

Meanwhile, a large number of irate consumers bombarded AT&T with questions on social media and criticized the business for what seemed to be a lack of transparency on the situation and the anticipated return of service. AT&T’s official customer support account on X encouraged users to approach the firm directly.

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average reached record highs on Thursday, the same day that AT&T’s share price closed down more than 2% due to the outage.

What Does This Mean For US Cell Network Security?

As of right now, neither federal officials nor an industry authority can find any proof of a cyberattack. According to the industry official who spoke with CNN, peering—the process by which calls are transferred from one network to another—seems to be the root of the issue.

It’s possible that fresh information indicating an attack will surface. However, it’s too soon to tell.

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