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VoIP Provider Voipfone UK Knocked Out by DDoS Attack AGAIN UPDATE

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 (8:33 am) - Score 2,976
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Customers of Voipfone‘s UK broadband ISP and Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) service have signalled their frustration after the provider was knocked out yet again by a major Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) assault against their servers, which has been periodically impacting both them and Voip Unlimited since last month.

DDoS attacks typically work by overloading a target server or end-user with masses of data requests from multiple internet-connected devices (often malware hijacked computers / botnets etc.), which can cause the intended target to crash or suffer significant performance problems until the bad traffic stops or can be mitigated (easier said than done with large-scale assaults).

Sadly, DDoS attacks occur against UK ISPs all the time and are practically par-for-the-course in this business, but most can be mitigated and few are ever significant enough to disrupt connectivity for lots of end-users. However, the recent extortion-based DDoS attacks against Voipfone and Voip Unlimited have caused significant disruption for both operators and their customers since they started at the end of September (here and here).

The latest incident started yesterday and promptly disrupted all of the operator’s VoIP, broadband, fixed line phone and other connectivity services (Voipfone Status). “We apologize for the disruption to our services, we are defending an extortion-based DDoS attack from overseas criminals,” said Voipfone while making a vague reference to the ransomware gang (previously named as REvil). “We continue to work on a fix for this issue,” they added.

The situation has naturally caused rising frustration for the customers of both operators, with early sympathy for the situation being gradually eroded by the repetition of such events.

Example Customer Complaint 1

“It’s all happening again … Voipfone is down and out! For a day and a half and counting :-(. When I called them today they said “We are being attacked, but now we are on Cloudflare we expect the outages to last no longer than an hour while their algorithms determine the rogue IP addresses”. That was at 10am on Monday and now it’s half past midnight on Tuesday.

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 VIOP number over to a good old POTS service (looking forward to that and them losing my number).”

Example Customer Complaint 2

“Thought you may be interested to know that Voipfone is experiencing another DDoS attack. It started yesterday.

This follows attacks in September. Very little information coming from the company which is disappointing.

It raises questions about the resources of smaller VoIP companies to protect against such attacks.

We use Voipfone for a residential and business service.”

Industry sources have informed ISPreview.co.uk that the ransomware gang involved now appear to be using their attacks against Voipfone and Voip Unlimited as an exemplar to threaten other VoIP providers with similar attacks, unless they agree to paying a protection-racket fee. Some operators have indicated that the fee being asked is 10 Bitcoins per year, which is today worth around £452K.

We have asked the Comms Council UK (formerly ITSPA), which represents the United Kingdom’s Unified Communications and VoIP phone industry, to comment on the situation and are awaiting their response. Both Ofcom and relevant parts of the security services (Police) are understood to be aware of the ongoing issues, although there’s little the regulator can do to tackle the immediate issue.

In addition, we note that Voip Unlimited’s website is also still down today, although their own Service Status page reports no problems with their services.

UPDATE 9:55am

The Comms Council UK has kindly responded.

Eli Katz, Chair of Comms Council UK, 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.

We are liaising closely with the UK Government, National Cyber Security Centre, Ofcom & international agencies to share information and details about the nature of the attacks in the expectation of halting this criminal activity as quickly as possible.

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.”

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. Dave says:

    @Mark this link which was provided to me by email from them might shed a little more light on the matter https://www.voipfonestatus.co.uk/

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      I’ve already used that link in the article.

    2. Tim says:

      status.voip-unlimited.net is using a security service for protection against online attacks. An action has triggered the service and blocked your request.

      But I can access Dave’s link..

    3. ANTHONY REED says:

      Voipfone down not ansering phones eith.. however they are still charging their fees no way of getting intouch

  2. Phil says:

    What we really need is a separate telephone system that is switched and connects lines directly, that way it couldn’t be attacked like this and would remain resilient and still works even if the Internet or power goes off. If only such a system existed.

    This is going to be a growing problem from now on, VoIP providers being attacked and held to ransom because it seems pretty easy to do.

    1. Gareth says:

      We used to have such a system. It was called strowger.

  3. RaptorX says:

    Pay peanuts, get monkeys!

  4. Martin says:

    The states that give safe havens to these criminal gangs should be locked out of the internet until put their house in order.

  5. Oliver says:

    Services are still under attack for the 3rd day running now at Voipfone, but not a peep out of them for over 18h, since the last generic update.

    The https://www.voipfonestatus.co.uk/ website doesn’t list any issues on the 25th despite it being described in the current “Disruption to service” box.

    Voipfone’s phone number just plays a recorded message and hangs up on you.

    The communication surrounding this issue has been awful, and we will be moving up the date we are switching away from Voipfone.

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