TikTok & Two Cell Carriers Have Cyber Issues

AT&T announced that a “nationwide issue” affecting calls between carriers had been resolved on Tuesday evening. The company stated, “The interoperability issue between carriers has been resolved. We collaborated with the other carrier to find a solution and appreciate our customers’ patience during this period,” around 7:45 p.m. Eastern Time.

AT&T clarified that calls to 911 and between customers of the same carrier, like AT&T to AT&T, were not affected. Text messaging and the FirstNet wireless broadband network for first responders also remained functional.

Earlier in the day, AT&T had been working closely with Verizon to address the issue. The problem was not a complete nationwide outage but rather an issue affecting the ability of some customers to complete calls between different carriers. Verizon confirmed that its network was functioning normally, but acknowledged that “some customers, primarily in the Northeast and Midwest, are experiencing issues when calling or texting with customers served by another carrier.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was also investigating the matter, stating, “We’re aware of reports that consumers in multiple states are unable to make wireless calls and we are currently investigating.”

The extent of the disruption was unclear, but customers expressed their frustrations on social media platforms like X. One user directed a complaint to Verizon, saying, “I pay too much to not be able to make a phone call.” Another customer reported to AT&T, “What’s up with y’all today! My phone decided to stop making outgoing calls. Says it’s unable to connect.”

This disruption came just over three months after a widespread outage left many AT&T customers without service, affecting around 50,000 users at one point. That issue was attributed to a process error.

The website Downdetector noted an increase in reported outages for both AT&T and Verizon on Tuesday. While T-Mobile stated it was not experiencing an outage, it noted that problems with other carriers might impact its customers trying to connect to other networks.

In related news, TikTok confirmed a cyberattack targeting high-profile users, including Paris Hilton and CNN. Hackers have been sending direct messages (DMs) to these users, attempting to install malicious software (malware) on their devices. This malware grants the cybercriminals remote access to the victim’s TikTok account.

TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, described the threat as a “potential exploit” and stated, “We have been collaborating closely with CNN to restore account access and implement enhanced security measures to safeguard their account moving forward.” The company emphasized its dedication to maintaining platform integrity and monitoring for further inauthentic activity.

According to the BBC, Paris Hilton’s account was targeted but not compromised. Tech expert Jake Moore explained that this type of attack, known as a “zero click attack,” doesn’t require the user to click any link in the message to be affected. Simply opening the malicious message can deploy the malware.

Moore noted, “The malware would have granted access to the attacker, making this a software vulnerability that was previously unknown.” The nature of the message could have been a photo, video clip, or even just code designed to gain control of the account. Although primarily targeting high-profile users, lesser-known accounts and members of the public may have been affected.

Moore advised all TikTok users to be wary of unusual messages on the platform and treat unsolicited messages with caution, highlighting the sophisticated nature of such attacks that require little or no interaction from the victim to be effective.

TikTok is currently facing a potential ban in the U.S. unless it is sold by its Chinese owners, due to concerns among U.S. politicians about the app being used by the Chinese government for surveillance, censorship, and promoting Chinese narratives. The app has already been banned from devices owned and managed by the U.S. House of Representatives, which cited it as “high risk due to a number of security issues.”


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