AT&T Reveals Cause Of Major Outage, Not Caused By Cyberattack

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Feb 24, 2024 - 01:30 AM

By Jack Phillips of Epoch Times

AT&T said Friday that the 12-hour-long outage to its U.S. cellphone network Thursday didn’t appear to be caused by a cyberattack, blaming it on an “incorrect process.”

On Thursday, numerous customers reported that AT&T and Cricket, its subsidiary, were down for hours. Some 75,000 customers reported to they were without cellphone service, texting, or internet access across the country, although that number is likely quite higher.

“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,” AT&T said in a statement Friday.

The company did not reveal the exact cause of the service disruption. The firm said Thursday that the disruption was fixed.

Amid the outage, iPhone users with AT&T saw an “SOS” message and were told that they could only make emergency or Wi-Fi calls. Android users saw a similar message that they could only make emergency calls.

But some local police and sheriff’s departments wrote on social media that some AT&T users were not able to make 911 calls, while some law enforcement officials, who were AT&T customers too, couldn’t use their devices.

The Federal Communications Commission contacted the FBI and other agencies about the outage, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday. The FBI said it communicated with AT&T, saying in a statement that “should we learn of any malicious activity we will respond accordingly.”

Before the outage was resolved, AT&T urged customers to connect to Wi-Fi to use their phones. Wi-Fi calling is a built-in feature on most Android devices and iPhones and can be turned on under the phone’s settings.

“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,” AT&T said in a statement.

If Wi-Fi isn’t available, there are few options for cell phone users. It’s possible to switch services if a phone is unlocked, but that requires signing up online and porting your phone number. Some apps, including Google Maps, have limited service offline. Payment apps also do not use a phone’s cell service to work and should also be useable.

Politicians in Washington also raised the alarm after the outage caught their attention.

“We are working to assess today’s disruption in order to gain a complete understanding of what went wrong and what can be done to prevent future incidents like this from occurring,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) warned that if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) executes a cyberattack in the future, it would cause far more devastating consequences for Americans.

In a post on X, Mr. Rubio, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote that “it will be 100 times worse when China launches a cyber attack on America on the eve of a Taiwan invasion.”

“And it won’t be just cell service they hit, it will be your power, your water, and your bank,” he said, adding that he doesn’t know the cause of the outage.

Federal officials in recent years have increasingly ramped out warnings about the CCP’s capabilities, saying that groups associated with the regime are carrying out cyberattacks constantly.

“China-sponsored hackers pre-positioned for potential cyberattacks against U.S. oil and natural gas companies way back in 2011, but these days, it’s reached something closer to a fever pitch,” said FBI Director Chris Wray earlier this year. “What we’re seeing now is China’s increasing build-out of offensive weapons within our critical infrastructure, poised to attack whenever Beijing decides the time is right.”

More in the original report available at The Epoch Times