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AT&T says outage was caused by software update – but DHS and FBI investigating

AT&T says outage was caused by software update – but DHS and FBI investigating


AT&T says that the widespread outage which started in the early hours of yesterday morning and later resolved was caused by a software update.

There had earlier been speculation that it might have been the result of a cyber attack, but while there are said to be “no indications of malicious activity” so far, both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are investigating …

Widespread AT&T outage

The outage – which affected at least tens of thousands of customers across the US – was first reported in the early hours of Thursday morning.

It included an inability to make emergency calls, with multiple 911 centers reporting that users were unable to connect.

There had been suggestions that other networks were affected, but as we suspected, this reflected failed attempts to place calls to AT&T numbers.

Software update, not cyber attack, says company

When AT&T first announced that the day-long outage was resolved, it did not provide any explanation of how it happened. This led to speculation that it may have been a cyber attack, in an attempt to blackmail the company.

However, AT&T told ABC News that this was not the case.

The outage was not a cyberattack but caused by “the application and execution of an incorrect process used as we were expanding our network.”

ABC sources say that it was a software update which went wrong, and that no external actor was involved. Incompetence, not conspiracy.

But DHS and FBI investigating

US security officials have found “no indications of malicious activity” – but despite this, both the Department of Homeland Security and FBI are investigating.

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) reported, according to a confidential memo obtained by ABC News, that “the cause of the outage is unknown and there are no indications of malicious activity.” CISA is an agency within DHS tasked with monitoring cyber threats.

The FCC has been in touch with AT&T to figure out what caused the outage, according to National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby.

Kirby told reporters Thursday afternoon that DHS and the FBI were looking into the outage as well and working with the tech industry and network providers to see what can be done “from a federal perspective to enhance their investigative efforts to figure out what happened here.”

“The bottom line is we don’t have all the answers,” he said. “We’re working very hard to see if we can get to the ground truth of exactly what happened.”

Image: 9to5Mac composite using images from DonkeyHotey/CC2.0 and Uriel SC on Unsplash

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