A cyberattack that destroyed phones “determined and deliberate”, according to the president of PocketiNet de Walla Walla | New


When hackers took down bandpass.com, Todd Brandenburg knew the massive implications that came with it.


“This really reveals a homeland security problem with our government,” Brandenburg said.

As of Friday, October 1, Bandwidth.com reported that its services were generally performing well, but some local users were still reporting issues, including the Walla Walla city offices.

The bandwidth provides primary servers for Internet telecommunications and is used by many large operators.

The Union-Bulletin also experienced phone disruptions as a result of the attack, but UB information technology workers said the phones appeared to work again on Friday.

Although Bandwidth.com reported restored services, downstream operators are still having issues on Friday

Brandenburg is president of PocketiNet, a Walla Walla-based telecommunications and internet company, and he doesn’t take the cyberattack lightly.

“We are working diligently on this,” Brandenburg said of his company’s efforts for the 30 customers still affected by a previous attack.

The attack, he said, is carried out by unknown attackers who have started to target companies that offer voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, services.

The first big target was voip.ms. Then last weekend, hackers attacked Bandwidth, one of the country’s leading VoIP operators. PocketiNet has been affected by the voip.ms attack and is still experiencing persistent issues.

Brandenburg guessed that the attacks are carried out by the same group, based on the similarity of strategy, but there is no way to be sure.

Bandwidth.com is “upstream” from the companies that use its services, including Microsoft, Google and Verizon, some of the largest companies in the world.

As such, Bandwidth.com was one of the trusted VoIP carriers, Brandenburg said.

“Unfortunately, they are probably the best prepared for this type of attack,” Brandenburg said. “But it brought them to their knees, even in the world.”

And what’s even more bizarre, he said, is that no one really knows who is behind it all. The reports were primarily made by gaming or tech websites; major news organizations have virtually avoided reporting on a hack that has critical implications for the US economy.

What makes this blow so ominous and particularly damaging, Brandenburg said, is that the attackers knew when to strike to make him sting the most. In the past, other hackers have used their distributed denial of service attacks – DDoS – over long periods of time, when they specifically targeted rush hour on the East Coast.

DDoS attacks involve multiple bogus users – or “bots” – sending multiple requests to a server, overloading its ability to handle more requests. So if your business phone number existed on this server, it probably wasn’t working due to virtual traffic jam.

The technique began in the gaming industry, where hackers would force a player to quit a game, but it has spread to the world of commercial technology.

“It seems like a very determined and deliberate attack,” Brandenburg said, adding that it was a group with a good idea of ​​how to hurt the United States.

With the push of the right buttons, some of the world’s largest companies could be at the mercy of ransomware – a type of attack where hackers steal private information and take it hostage – or DDoS attacks.

“There are government assets that are very well protected,” Brandenburg said. “But we’re talking about the business side of the economy… The (US) government is not doing its job to protect businesses.”

Brandenburg said he saw the writing on the wall with this type of attack, indicating a local hack in late 2019 where the Walla Walla County government was ransomware.

Brandenburg said he had already approached a senior government official to warn him that the FCC must help improve the security of the country’s web services, but nothing has been done.

Hackers could pick up ransoms left and right, and no one knows. Bandwidth.com, in particular, has been quiet about who the hackers are and what they demand, Brandenburg said.

The hack of voip.ms allegedly involved a request for payment of up to 100 Bitcoins, equivalent to more than $ 4.1 million, according to tech industry outlet Silicon Angle.

Sometimes the only option is to pay the hackers, Brandenburg said. But if the hackers take the ransom without stopping the attack, what do you do?

The recent attack has also shown how much it can disrupt current and government affairs. Officials in the city of Walla Walla noted that Friday was the first day people had to pay their utility bills after the state’s moratorium on payments ended.

Several people were calling to set up payment plans to avoid late fees, according to an email from city officials. The city encouraged people to use wallawallawa.gov or visit City Hall if the phones go offline.

In the meantime, Brandenburg said, businesses might benefit from having multiple communication services, such as a 1-800 number that can be redirected to another phone, such as a cell phone or a company landline. .

He said the telecommunications industry itself has failed businesses by not allowing phone numbers to be “ported” quickly, which means they can’t forward the number to another phone or phone system. without accessing the upstream server. A cell phone port for a private user can take a few minutes, but transferring work phone numbers can take days, Brandenburg said.

“So this is an industry problem which in my opinion needs to be addressed immediately,” he said.

And what about more practical solutions like going out of the network or even going back to an old landline?

“There is no longer a safe harbor,” Brandenburg said. Almost all communication services are linked to the global web, he said, and all are vulnerable to cyber attacks.

“It is a scourge on the Internet,” he said. “It’s going to continue to happen… the bigger question is: who’s next? “


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