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AT&T says cyber attack did not cause widespread outage

A software update was the culprit.

A software update was the culprit.

A corporate office of AT&T is seen in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Connor Carey via Wikimedia Commons, editing by The Desk)

A massive failure of AT&T’s network left millions of customers unable to make phone calls or access the Internet from their wireless devices on Thursday.

The issue triggered widespread concerns of a cyberattack against one of the country’s biggest telecommunications service providers, which includes the FirstNet service used by law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Late Thursday evening, a spokesperson for AT&T said the outage was not the result of anything nefarious, but was the result of some overnight maintenance that went sideways.

That maintenance included the deployment of a software update that caused a glitch throughout AT&T’s network as the wireless provider was trying to expand its services.

“We are continuing our assessment of today’s outage to ensure we keep delivering the service that our customers deserve,” AT&T said in a statement.

Sources familiar with the issue downplayed the possibility of a cyberattack, saying there was no information to indicate that AT&T’s network was compromised or otherwise access by any unauthorized third party or group.

Customers were able to make calls from their AT&T phones by using the network’s Wi-Fi Calling feature, which works when a device is connected to a separate wireless Internet network.

AT&T has around 200 million residential, business and government wireless subscribers.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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