To understand what happened with Bandwidth.com and how your business may have been impacted, I would like to use an example to explain how a phone call happens. There is more involved with making a phone call than you would think.
Let’s use an example:
You use your phone to call someone else, so you dial (123) 555-1234. That call gets transferred to a datacenter. The datacenter takes your call and communicates with companies where phone numbers live. In this case, its Bandwidth.com. The datacenter says “I’m trying to call (123) 555-1234 tell me how to connect the call”. So Bandwidth.com finds the number you dialed and connects the call.
This process works the opposite way when customers are trying to call your business. When they call you, the call transfers to the datacenter, and the datacenter asks Bandwidth.com to route the call.
This is how the normal process works. Right now, communicating to Bandwidth.com is limited. This is where the attack is focused. The ability for Bandwidth.com to talk to all the datacenters is not working properly which explains why some calls get disconnected or have quality issues.
Bandwidth.com is aware of this problem, and they are trying to fix it as fast as they can. We are working with the datacenters as they have a direct relationship with Bandwidth.com to get the most up to date status on when everything will be back online.
Who is Bandwidth.com?
Bandwidth.com controls about 40% of the phone numbers in the U.S. That means 40% of all calls in the U.S. look to Bandwidth.com to route phone calls to the proper place. That makes them a ripe target for hackers. If your phone number is with Bandwidth.com, the call routing is probably not working. There are other companies that do what Bandwidth.com does, so if your phone number is with a different company then you may not be experiencing issues. This explains why some companies are having no issues, while others are.
Was this a planned attack or one that could have been seen coming?
There is no evidence that anyone saw this attack coming. Even the larger companies such as Google Voice, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and RingCentral are being affected. If there was something in place to prevent this, it would have already been done. The larger companies use Bandwidth.com and so do smaller phone companies. Sadly, this means the problem is not isolated to just one phone company. Many were hit at the same time because a large majority of them use Bandwidth.com.
I can’t answer my phones, can I forward my phone calls to my cell phone?
No. The request to forward phone calls to your cell phone still must contact Bandwidth.com to route calls. Since the communication to Bandwidth.com is not solid right now, forwarding your calls is not likely.
What can we do in the future to prevent this from happening?
There are more companies than just Bandwidth.com where your phone numbers can live. You will need to check with your phone system provider to see if your phone numbers can be moved to another company. Right now, any request to move phone numbers is not Bandwidth.com’s #1 priority. Their main concern is getting all communication back up and running first. Then requests to move phone numbers will be addressed. The highest priority is getting all communication restored so this problem gets resolved.
The impact on your business
We recognize many businesses cannot communicate with their customers and staff. This affects productivity, revenue, etc. If folks are trying to call your business and cannot get through, try using your cell phone. I cannot promise it will work but it may. Another alternative is e-mail. Let them know you are currently experiencing phone issues that are out your control and e-mail is your best method of communication until this problem has been resolved.
A quick bit of history
This tactic by criminals to target critical industry is not new. We saw it happen earlier this year with the Colonial Pipeline incident. Just a few weeks ago a similar communication company in Canada was attacked by Revil (a Russian ransomware crime syndicate) and created the same turmoil. A ransom of $4.5 million was requested which the Canadian company refused to pay. Communications were disrupted for an entire week. This proves ransomware has various ways of being used in today’s world. It also shows us the attacks are very real, impact our lives and are getting more frequent. Protecting your business is an immediate need and not something to do tomorrow.
Please contact us if you are not 100% confident in your protection strategy. We offer a free consultation to help determine what your risks actually are.