Deutsche Telekom Suspects Mirai Botnet For Internet Outage Affecting 900,000 Customers

900,000 Deutsche Telekom customers in Germany were hit with an internet outage beginning on Sunday, and IT analysts have concluded that the company was the victim of a hacker attack. The 900,000 affected customers make up roughly 4.5 percent of Deutsche Telekom’s 20 million fixed-line customers.

It is believed that the hackers used malicious software known as Mirai. Mirai turns network devices into remotely-controlled “bots” that can be used to launch attacks and target other victims. Remote interfaces allow network technicians to fix customers' routers from far away, but are also susceptible to outside attacks such as Mirai.

The attack targeted the remote routers in homes and offices that not only provide internet, but also telephone and television services. Deutsche Telekom was able to use defensive measures to stop the attack but subsequently made the affected routers go offline and therefore lose access to internet services, voice calling and online TV reception.

It is currently unknown who launched the attack. Deutsche Telekom has been able to figure out that the affected routers were ones manufactured by Taiwan's Arcadyan Technology. Arcadyan worked with Deutsche Telekom on a patch and other network operators and security agents have been notified around the world.

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Dirk Backofen, a senior Deutsche Telekom security executive, remarked, “This was not an attack against Deutsche Telekom. It was a global attack against all kinds of devices. How many other operators were affected, we don't know.”

Germany has been the victim of a number of cyberattacks over the last few years. This past September, several political parties received fake messages from NATO which installed spy software on their computers. In 2015, hackers targeted members of the German parliament; the Russian government was blamed for this attack.