Following T-Mobile’s massive cell phone service outage on Monday, which affected hundreds of thousands of their customers, numerous AT&T and Sprint customers, and by default, Verizon users, the hacktivist group Anonymous tweeted that it was a result of a “major DDoS attack.”
While many of the companies affected and authorities have not confirmed the claim, Verizon released the following statement to Heavy on Tuesday: “Verizon’s network is performing well. We’re aware that another carrier was having network issues. Calls to and from that carrier may receive an error message. Verizon has robust layers of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protections that we monitor 24 x 7 to protect our network and customers. We have not seen DDoS activity that impacted our networks on Monday.”
DDoS, short for Distributed Denial of Service, is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. Attackers target a wide variety of important resources, from banks to news websites, flooding the sites with too much information to operate and causing a major challenge to people wanting to publish or access important information.
Anonymous tweeted out a digital map that appeared to show the various types of attacks happening between America and the rest of the world on Monday.
Anonymous tweeted, “The source of the DDoS attack on the United States is currently unknown. We speculate it may be China as the situation between South and North Korea is currently deteriorating.”
MalwareTech, however, refuted Anonymous’ claims. They tweeted, “This site shows a random sample of global DDoS traffic badly plotted on a world map. It does not indicate an attack against the US, it lacks context to make any inferences at all (other than DDoS attacks are happening all day every day).”
MalwareTech added on Twitter, “Without knowing the exact destination(s), other than they’re within the US, no conclusions can be made. The US is the world leader in hosting, this could be a bunch of unrelated DDoS attacks against random US-hosted websites. Maps like this are nothing but marketing eye candy.”
Numerous Other Major Communication Companies Suffered Outages on Monday
It wasn’t just major mobile networks that reported outages on Monday; Down Detector showed customers reporting issues with Twitch, Comcast, Facebook and Instagram.
Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare, reported that these outages were not related to a DDoS attack. He tweeted, “There’s a lot of buzz right now about a ‘massive DDoS attack’ targeting the US, complete with scary-looking graphs… While it makes for a good headline in these already dramatic times, it’s not accurate. The reality is far more boring.”
“It starts with T-Mobile,” Prince continued. “They were making some changes to their network configurations today. Unfortunately, it went badly. The result has been for around the last 6 hours a series of cascading failures for their users, impacting both their voice and data networks.”
T-Mobile Was Hit the Hardest With Outage Issues Based on Customer Reports
T-Mobile appeared to be hit the hardest during the nationwide cell service outage on Monday. Down Detector received reports from over 110,000 customers complaining of not being able to make phone calls, and frustrated T-Mobile phone users shared their issues on Twitter.
The issues appeared to start around 2:45 p.m. Eastern, mainly affecting customers in southeastern states before spreading to other areas of the country. Customer complaints caused T-Mobile to become the No. 1 trending term on Twitter.
The outage affected customers’ ability to make or receive phone calls or text messages while using data. Customers experiencing problems can reach T-Mobile through their support website.
At 4:30 p.m. Eastern, Neville Ray, president of technology for T-Mobile, addressed the outage. He tweeted, “Our engineers are working to resolve a voice and data issue that has been affecting customers around the country. We’re sorry for the inconvenience and hope to have this fixed shortly.”
Just before midnight, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert put out an official statement on the company’s ongoing network issues. He said:
We are recovering from this now but it may still take several more hours before customer calling and texting is fully recovered. Neville Ray has shared updates throughout the day but I wanted to share the latest on what we know and what we’re doing to address it. This is an IP traffic related issue that has created significant capacity issues in the network core throughout the day.
I can assure you that we have hundreds of our engineers and vendor partner staff working to resolve this issue and our team will be working through the night as needed to get the network fully operational.
Customers Are Direct-Messaging T-Mobile on Twitter Since They Can’t Make Phone Calls
It’s a catch-22 for customers wanting to report a cell service outage when they can’t call their mobile provider. While social sites such as Instagram and Facebook had reported issues, Twitter remained unaffected by Monday’s outage.
One online user grew worried he might’ve missed his monthly payment. He tweeted, “T-Mobile got me out here thinking I missed a payment and I can’t even call to complain.”