Photo Credit: TPS

A massive cellular service outage on Thursday affected AT&T customers across the United States from the early hours of the morning into at least midday; simultaneously a prescription processing and billing company was hit by a cyberattack.

No information was made available to media on who or what was behind the cyberattack on the prescription processor, nor was the cause of the cellular outage immediately made clear.


More than 100 Million AT&T Customers Affected
“The cause of the outage is unknown and there are no indications of malicious activity,” the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (within the Department of Homeland Security) reported at 5 am ET.

AT&T serves more than 100 million customers with mobile and broadband services, according to the company’s website.

The outages made it impossible not only to reach friends, family and coworkers by phone, but also preventing emergency calls to 9-1-1. Customers were urged by local government and police to try calling from a landline or to call via the internet.

Verizon, T-Mobile Not Affected – Until One Calls an AT&T Customer
Verizon and T-Mobile customers were affected when they tried to reach those with AT&T service, but their own networks were not affected.

“Verizon’s network is operating normally. Some customers experienced issues this morning when calling or texting with customers served by another carrier. We are continuing to monitor the situation,” a Verizon spokesperson said.

“We did not experience an outage. Our network is operating normally. Down Detector is likely reflecting challenges our customers were having attempting to connect to users on other networks,” T-Mobile told ABC News.

“We encourage the use of Wi-Fi calling until service is restored,” an AT&T spokesperson said earlier in the day – but several hours later, AT&T said in a statement that 75 percent of its network had been restored, albeit with work still in progress on the rest of the network.

“Some of our customers are experiencing wireless service interruptions this morning. Our network teams took immediate action and so far three-quarters of our network has been restored. We are working as quickly as possible to restore service to remaining customers,” the company said.

Cyberattack Affected Pharmacies Across America
A separate, equally disruptive outage was caused by a cyberattack against Change Healthcare, one of America’s largest healthcare technology firms, Fox Business News reported Thursday.

The company handles orders and patient payments nationwide, and the attack affected the ability of pharmacies across the country who use the service to process patients’ orders.

“Change Healthcare is experiencing a network interruption related to a cyber security issue and our experts are working to address the matter. Once we became aware of the outside threat, in the interest of protecting our partners and patients, we took immediate action to disconnect our systems to prevent further impact,” Change Healthcare said in a statement.

No information was made available to media on who or what was behind the cyberattack. Likewise, the question of how long it would take to restore service was not immediately clear.

Now federal officials are investigating to determine whether the AT&T outage was caused by a cyberattack as well.

Two sources briefed on the situation told ABC News that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) were among multiple agencies probing the outages to determine whether they were the result of a cyberattack or a technical malfunction.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.