AT&T says massive national outage caused by ‘incorrect process’ not cyber attack

AT&T has apologised for the widespread outages that affected tens of thousands of consumers, but said that the network failure was not due to a cyber attack.

The major US provider said in a statement on Thursday evening that the outages were due to “the application and execution of an incorrect process” during network expansion, rather than a cyber attack.

“We are continuing our assessment of today’s outage to ensure we keep delivering the service that our customers deserve,” the statement read.

By 10:15am CT on Thursday, the company said it had restored about 75 per cent of the service to its network. Around 2pm, only a couple thousand customers were still reporting outages, according to Downdetector, a company that tracks self-reported complaints.

The mobile network is the largest in the country serving over 100 million people. The outage caused difficulties with consumers trying to contact 911 and other emergency services, leaving them to text the number for help in case of an emergency.

Several customers on social media had joked about going to AT&T to ask for a credit on their next bill shortly after the outages started. The incident became a running joke on Twitter as the situation dragged on into Thursday afternoon.

The Federal Communications Commission said it was investigating the incident in a written statement on Thursday.

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

The White House said it still didn’t have any information about what caused the incident but said it was confident it had not stemmed from a cyber security 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.”

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