Global cyberattack caused Telekom Deutschland router outage

Tuesday 29 November 2016 | 10:45 CET | News
The recent disruption to over 900,000 routers on the Telekom Deutschland network was caused by a global malware attack, according to the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). On 27 and 28 November, around 900,000 Telekom Deutschland customers lost connections to their phone and internet services after their router’s link was disrupted. 

According to the BSI, unknown hackers infected the routers with malicious software that targeted selected remote management ports. The BSI said that this outage was part of a larger global attack which is currently being investigated. German government networks were also targeted, but the impact was minimal thanks to effective defensive measures, the agency said. 

Thomas Tschersich, head of IT security at Telekom, told the German Der Tagesspiegel that the hackers tried to co-opt the routers to use in a botnet attack. While this was unsuccessful, the routers crashed in the process. If they had not crashed, the attempt to load malicious software on the routers may have went unnoticed, he said. The company has not found any evidence of customer data being compromised in the attack, he added.

Deutsche Telekom released a firmware update on 28 November to remove the malware and restore connections. Customers affected by the outage have been urged to re-start their routers to trigger the update. Those using Speedport W 921V, Speedport W 723V Typ B or Speedport W 921 Fiber devices also have the option of carrying out a manual update. Tschersich said the company is working with the router manufacturer Arcadyan to address any vulnerabilities. 

Affected customers who also have a mobile contract with Deutsche Telekom have been offered a free ‘Day-Flat unlimited’ pass to allow for internet access via LTE networks. Those customers who do not have a Deutsche Telekom mobile tariff have been encouraged to visit a Deutsche Telekom store for assistance.

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