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DDoSers take weekend off only to resume campaign against UK's Voipfone on Monday

Firm fingers 'overseas criminals' for sending internet phone business TITSUP*

It never rains but it pours. Internet telephone service provider Voipfone, currently battling a "major outage" across all voice services, has admitted to being hit by an "extortion-based DDoS attack from overseas criminals" that knocked it offline last week.

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack took down the company's platform for nearly four hours on the evening of Friday 22 October. Issues were reported on Voipfone's status page at 16:15 BST shortly followed by an apology and a suggestion to customers that "you might wish to set your phones to automatically failover to the PSTN or mobile networks."

The company said: "We're sorry for the disruption to our services, we are defending an extortion-based DDoS attack from overseas criminals," but remained tight-lipped over what was actually going on.

Still, by 20:12 BST on Friday Voipfone reported that its systems had struggled back to their feet. Access had been restored. Surely that would be the end of it?

Er, no. It seems that the evil-doers took the weekend off and attacked Voipfone again yesterday, according to Register reader Richard. Noting that he'd been provided with a monitoring graph this time around, he commended the company on being proactive in the face of the outage.

The company tweeted yesterday afternoon:

VoIPfone's website is back up this morning, though slow to load. At the time of publication, it indicted a "major outage" continued across voice calling services.

Unfortunately there remains frustratingly little information with regard to the DDoS attack, but the status page insists: "Our engineers continue working, trying to resolve the disruption to our service."

The Register attempted to contact the company, but has yet to receive a reply.

A customer told us earlier this morning: "I use Voipfone for my business and this is the second outage lasting more than 24 hours that they have suffered in the recent past.

He claimed that on calling the company yesterday he was told it was again being attacked but the outage was expected to last no longer than an hour.

"No business phone for me means no business, so it's no joke. The communication is paltry and my confidence in VOIP is severely dented. I may have to port my VOIP number over to a good old POTS service (looking forward to that and them losing my number). I can't even call them to get a failover set up (to a mobile or other landline) as their telephone is just a recorded message now and their website has been offline for 12 hours."

In between the attacks on Voipfone, UK retailer Tesco was forced to shutter its online operations due to an attempt to "interfere" with its systems.

Voipfone has suffered at the hands of wrongdoers before. In September its services were "intermittently disrupted by a DDoS attack" as compromised devices flooded its network with bogus traffic. The problems then were noted on 31 August and weren't resolved until 3 September.

Meanwhile, fellow Brit VoIP firm VoIP Unlimited – which came under attack last month – also appeared to have fallen offline yesterday, but its status page claimed all was operational at the time of publication. The South Coast-based firm told The Register back in September that it had been slapped with a "colossal ransom demand" after being hit by a sustained and large-scale DDoS attack it believed originated from the Russian cybercriminal gang REvil.

The chair of Comms Council UK, Eli Katz, said: "Several Comms Council UK members and international IP-based communications service providers have been subjected to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks over the past four weeks which appear to be part of a coordinated extortion-focused international campaign by professional cyber criminals."

He said the council was sharing info with law enforcement, the government, the National Cyber Security Centre, Ofcom and international agencies about the nature of the attacks.

Katz added: "As our members supply telecoms services to critical infrastructure organisations including the police, NHS and other public services, attacks on our members are attacks on the foundations of UK infrastructure.

"We are confident that, with a joined-up government-led initiative, this damaging criminal activity can be halted." ®

*Tiresome Internet Traffic Stuffs Up Phones

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