MTN victim of cyber attack

MTN LTE coverage now available to customers in Rustenburg. (image: Warren Rohner)

Mobile operator MTN suffered an outage on its South African data network on Wednesday and it has now been confirmed that the company fell victim to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) cyber-attack. The outage also affected internet service providers Afrihost and Axxess, the former claiming the attack was launched on MTN’s DNS cluster.

It has been confirmed that MTN has been the victim of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) cyber-attack (image: Warren Rohner)
It has been confirmed that MTN was the victim of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) cyber-attack (Image source: Warren Rohner)

“The servers basically couldn’t cope with the load, and it was difficult for us to bring them up again while the attack was still in progress,” Afrihost said in a statement to its users.

A denial-of-service cyber-attack is a common tactic used by cyber criminals to flood a particular website with packet requests (traffic), to the point where the servers cannot handle the load and collapse under the pressure.

“The MTN DNS servers would normally handle this type of attack without any problems, but at the time of the attack, some changes were made to the DNS servers and there was a bug in the system that made the situation far worse than it should have been. This bug has been fixed and this issue should not happen again,” Afrihost’s Greg Payne told MyBroadband.

When the cyber attacker struck on 28 August, Afrihost announced on their Facebook profile that they are experiencing connectivity issues.

“We are experiencing DNS errors which may affect ADSL clients’ web browsing, YouTube access, email, etc. Our team are urgently attending! Our engineers are working with MTN to resolve the DNS issue on our network. Please continue to be patient, this is our top priority,” they posted.

Afrihost partnered with MTN in January this year to deliver a premium ADSL service to their clients.

“Afrihost have partnered with MTN to offer a premium ADSL service to our clients. By joining the biggest telecoms network on the continent, we have ensured the future of our products, services and clients. Over the past 3 years, MTN has been investing approximately R4 Billion annually on infrastructure upgrades to make their Broadband Services the very best on offer,” they announced at the time.

* Image via Warren Rohner

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor