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Technology Nashville bombing froze wireless communications, exposed 'Achilles heel' in regional network

17:25  29 december  2020
17:25  29 december  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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This bombing was a deep state mission to destroy something in the AT&T building… no doubt something related to election rigging. This vehicle is reportedly broadcasting the same message as the RV that exploded in Nashville , which had loudspeakers urging people to evacuate the area before

The Christmas Day bombing in Nashville hit a weak point in telecommunications infrastructure, disrupting phone and internet service for days and underscoring a key risk for The Nashville bombing damaged an AT&T switching center, disrupting service in Tennessee and other states.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The vulnerability of the telecommunications system in Nashville and beyond became clear Christmas Day when AT&T's central office in downtown became the site of a bombing.

a car on fire in a street: A vehicle is on fire after an explosion in the area of Second and Commerce Friday, Dec. 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. © Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com A vehicle is on fire after an explosion in the area of Second and Commerce Friday, Dec. 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

Mayor John Cooper called the blast on Second Avenue an attack on infrastructure. The effects of that attack are sure to ripple through the region for weeks, as the telecom giant scrambles to restore services while also maintaining the integrity of an active investigation site teeming with federal agents.

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Three days after a Christmas Day explosion rocked downtown Nashville , investigators are still searching for a motive.

AT&T has confirmed that one of its facilities was damaged in what authorities call an “intentional” blast in downtown Nashville , Tennessee, amid reports of mass communications outages and 911 services down across multiple states.

State and local officials and experts say the fact that a multi-state region could be brought to its knees by a single bombing is a "wake-up call," exposing vulnerabilities many didn't know existed and predicting the it would lead to intense conversations about the future. 

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The bombing and the damage to the AT&T office was a "single-point of failure," said Douglas Schmidt, the Cornelius Vanderbilt professor of computer science at Vanderbilt University. 

"That's the Achilles Heel. The weak link," he said. "When one thing goes wrong and everything comes crashing down." 

Now, the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board has called a special meeting for next week to address the "impact to 911 operations as a result of the bombing in downtown Nashville," according to a public notice of the meeting set for Monday.

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Stephen Burmeister, a retired supervisory special agent for the FBI, joined CBSN to discuss what investigators have learned about the Nashville Christmas bombing and a possible motive.

Investigators are looking at "any and all possible motives" in the Nashville explosion after identifying the bomber as Anthony Quinn Warner. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz reports.

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While still piecing together a motive, investigators Monday said suspected bomber Anthony Quinn Warner sought “more destruction than death.”

He parked an RV outside the nondescript window-less red-brick building on the historic district, which houses a facility that includes connection points for regional internet and wireless communications. 

Flames broke out in the building and three feet of water pooled in the basement. Temporary battery power kept services intact in the hours following the explosion, but fire and flooding damaged backup power generators to power those batteries

The disruption brought communications in the region, from Georgia to Kentucky, to a halt, affecting 911 call centers, hospitals, the Nashville airport, government offices and individual mobile users. Issues with credit card devices hamstrung businesses big and small. 

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Parts of Tennessee are still experiencing communications outages after a bomb allegedly exploded in downtown Nashville on Christmas Day, damaging an NBC News: The FBI is pursuing approximately 500 leads and conducting interviews as the investigation into the Nashville bombing continues.> >

Investigators have found a suspected fragment of human remains in close vicinity of the blast site in Nashville , Tennessee, according to police chief, but it's not yet clear if the tissue might belong to a suspect or a victim.

TBI director: Nashville bomber Anthony Q. Warner’s motive appears linked to 'more destruction than death'

AT&T reported Monday morning that the majority of services in Nashville had been restored through a combination of fixes, including generator repairs and a temporary network set up at Nissan Stadium.

"Having a critical facility in a major metropolitan area next to a street without any other protections than a thick wall is crazy," Schmidt said.

"The silver lining here is nobody was killed," he said. "But this is a wake up call that if people treat it right, will help with future situations and be better prepared." 

'Our systems are not redundant enough'

When the situation settles down, state Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, who most recently served as chairman of the Senate commerce committee, hopes the Tennessee legislature can hear from AT&T representatives about what type of plan they’re implementing to prevent this type of outcome in the future if another similar disaster occurs.

"They need to have better redundancies in place,” Bailey said, referring to AT&T’s backup systems to prevent widespread outages. “It’s just very concerning that we have 911 centers go down. Lots of emergency services losing communications. That’s really concerning to me.”

After naming bombing suspect, focus turns to motive

  After naming bombing suspect, focus turns to motive NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — With federal officials having identified the man believed to be behind Nashville's Christmas Day bombing, authorities now turn to the monumental task of piecing together the motive behind the explosion that severely damaged dozens of downtown buildings and injured three people. While officials on Sunday named Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, as the man behind the mysterious explosion in which he was killed, the motive has remained elusive. (Courtesy of FBI via AP) While officials on Sunday named Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, as the man behind the mysterious explosion in which remained elusive.

Nashville Metro Council member Freddie O'Connell, who represents the downtown area, said the city must also follow up on how to create more redundancy in critical communication systems in the aftermath of the bombing. 

"How does a city as a whole function if we go through something like this again or a natural disaster?" he said. "We learned our systems are not redundant enough when one major provider goes offline." 

a group of people riding skis on a snowy street: Investigators walk through the scene of the explosion on Second Avenue on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. © George Walker IV / The Tennessean Investigators walk through the scene of the explosion on Second Avenue on Friday, Dec. 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

Police officers on the scene Friday were issued burner phones, according to Metro police spokesperson Don Aaron. Nashville’s police department uses FirstNet network, a priority network for first responders to use on existing AT&T cell towers for voice and data.

Nashville’s 911 line remained operational but officials were without access to administrative phone lines through Friday evening, according to Stephen Martini, director of Nashville Department of Emergency Communications. 

In the absence of non-emergency phone lines, residents were encouraged to request services through hubNashville online – which officials monitored for a three-day period. 

Nashville police bodycam footage shows raw moments of chaos before and after explosion

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Martini said communications to emergency personnel via radio was never impacted over the weekend. 

He declined to share details on how the department remained operational, citing sensitive public safety information, but said a redundancy plan, dubbed the P.A.C.E method (Primary, Alternate, Contingent, Emergency), was in place. 

Nashville’s director of information and technology services, Keith Durbin, said Verizon phones had to be driven to some staff on Christmas Day. 

“This was one of the worst case scenarios that happened,” Durbin said. “AT&T runs the world. To have them completely taken out … was even broader impact than we thought.” 

Luckily, he said, none of the city’s “internal network backbone” was affected, with issues primarily coming from smaller Metro facilities. Some were continuing to experience issues Monday, including the Davidson County Clerk's office. 

The city was able to switch from AT&T to a secondary internet carrier Friday. But the city doesn’t have a backup for phone services. It’s something officials have considered in recent years. 

Those talks, Durbin said, will be revived after the bombing. He said he’s confident it’ll now get wide support.

Bailey said he heard from 911 center directors in his district reporting outages nearly 100 miles away from Nashville. Residents in the area received reverse emergency calls to inform them not to dial 911, but instead to use another phone number to get in touch with dispatchers.

And then there were the retail stores, the pharmacies, the businesses and hospitals that were impacted, he said.

Christmas bombing marks another dark day for Nashville

  Christmas bombing marks another dark day for Nashville NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — When Sandy and Geff Lee finally saw a photo of the building that was home to their Nashville boutique on the day after the Christmas morning bombing, a quiet came over the room. The rubble was overwhelming. Debris shadowed familiar details. Geff Lee pulled up a map to verify they were looking in the right place. “That moment? It was silence. It was an eye-opener,” Sandy Lee said, owner of Ensemble. “It was blown up.” TheThe rubble was overwhelming. Debris shadowed familiar details. Geff Lee pulled up a map to verify they were looking in the right place.

He credits AT&T for working quickly to restore service. But he said it’s concerning that one incident could wipe out so much of the region’s communications capability.

“This affected our entire Southeast region,” Bailey said. “There were multiple states that had issues because of this.”

But as for whether the General Assembly wields much power to compel action from AT&T,  “the short answer is no, we don’t,” Bailey said.

The state’s Public Utility Commission, a five-member board consisting of political appointees, also has a very limited ability to regulate for-profit communications companies. Much of that would be a federal issue, Bailey noted.

State and hospitals face outages

The city wasn't alone in experiencing communication outages. 

The Tennessee General Assembly, which has offices adjoining the Capitol downtown, also experienced outages over the weekend. The email system was down for a portion of the day Saturday, and staff were told to work from home Monday after the building experienced phone outages until Sunday evening.

State government office buildings remained closed Monday due to safety hazards that the outages continued to pose, said Lola Potter, spokesperson for the Department of Finance and Administration.

Fire and safety alarm systems in state buildings in Nashville still weren’t fully functioning.

Other state services over the weekend were impacted, though state employees found workarounds and alerted authorities in some situations, such as with reporting child abuse.

“Obviously we were concerned about it, but we took precautions by reaching out to law enforcement,” said Jennifer Donnals, chief of staff for the Department of Children’s Services.

A state web form and app that field child abuse reports remained in service, Donnals said, and staff in different regions also alerted major children’s hospitals around the state to the hotline being down.

Motive in Nashville explosion still unclear as business owners return to 'eerie' site; Warner's girlfriend warned of bomb-making in 2019

  Motive in Nashville explosion still unclear as business owners return to 'eerie' site; Warner's girlfriend warned of bomb-making in 2019 Authorities were notified of bomb concerns regarding Anthony Quinn Warner more than a year before he conducted the Christmas Day blast.Authorities were told Anthony Quinn Warner was building explosives more than a year before the Christmas Day blast in downtown Nashville, a newly obtained police report shows.

The timing of the disruptions occurring on a weekend – and a holiday weekend at that – meant the agency would likely have been receiving fewer complaints than on weekdays anyway.

Meanwhile, hospitals in the region have also had to work around outages since the weekend, mostly stemming from their landline phone systems going down and being unable to receiving incoming calls.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center reported it was back in service by late Monday afternoon, while TriStar Centennial Medical Center was experiencing some intermittent outages.

Both hospitals had to set up new, temporary phone numbers for people to call, according to spokespeople for both hospital systems

Health records and other IT infrastructure needed to care for patients were not affected at Vanderbilt, nor were employees’ ability to make internal calls within the hospital.

There were remaining limitations to flight corridors in and out of the Nashville International Airport on Monday, but it did not have a significant impact on flight departures and arrivals, according to Tom Jurkovich, vice president of communications and public affairs for the airport. 

Flights were grounded at Nashville Airport Christmas afternoon with telecommunication issues stemming from the explosion. Jurkovich estimated up to 45 of 116 flights scheduled for departure that day were delayed. 

Follow reporters Yihyun Jeong and Natalie Allison on Twitter: @yihyun_jeong@natalie_allison

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This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville bombing froze wireless communications, exposed 'Achilles heel' in regional network

Motive in Nashville explosion still unclear as business owners return to 'eerie' site; Warner's girlfriend warned of bomb-making in 2019 .
Authorities were notified of bomb concerns regarding Anthony Quinn Warner more than a year before he conducted the Christmas Day blast.Authorities were told Anthony Quinn Warner was building explosives more than a year before the Christmas Day blast in downtown Nashville, a newly obtained police report shows.

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