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AT&T Suffers an Alleged Cyber Attack

Photo by FlyD on Unsplash

Many AT&T customers were left without cellphone service on Thursday, Feb. 22, thanks to a widespread outage that began in the early morning and lasted until roughly 3 p.m. (ET), when the company confirmed it had restored service to affected customers. Following the incident, AT&T and federal organizations have been investigating the cause of the disruption as well as assessing the possibility of a cyberattack.

“I was worried [about the attack] because I thought my phone had a virus or got hacked before I found out it was happening to everyone,” senior Linden Belcher said.

AT&T's service suffered a national outage on Thursday, beginning at about 3:30 a.m. (ET), according to Downdetector. Just before 2 p.m. (ET), the number of reports had declined drastically to nearly 4,900 after spiking to more than 73,000 just after 9 a.m. (ET). Downdetector, a website that tracks phone and internet service outages, reported AT&T service was down mostly in the Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and Miami service areas.

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, AT&T said.

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 the outage was caused by the application and execution of an incorrect process during network expansion. The FBI and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were aware of the outages and investigating.


We are aware of the reported wireless outages, and our Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is actively investigating, FCC said. We are in touch with AT&T and public safety authorities, including FirstNet, as well as other providers.

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 can be done from a federal perspective to lend a hand to investigative efforts to figure out what happened there. Meanwhile, AT&T apologized for the outage Thursday after several irate customers complained about being unable to make calls or send texts on social media.


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