News / Toronto

Cyber attack, 'backbone failure' to blame for Toronto Internet woes: TekSavvy

TekSavvy has been dealing with increased cyber attacks that have played a role in, or caused, at least one of the outages.

TekSavvy and Rogers are investigating internet outages in Toronto.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

TekSavvy and Rogers are investigating internet outages in Toronto.

UPDATE: TekSavvy's CEO Marc Gaudrault released an open letter after this article was published, confirming this report. The letter attributes the Internet problems to a "total backbone failure on point-to-point routes outside our network" and "a massive DDOS attack with a new attack signature (TekSavvy) hadn’t seen before."

If Internet outages have affected your Netflix and chillin’ recently, you’re not alone.

It’s been a rough stretch for TekSavvy customers in Toronto who experienced an unusual series of outages on Feb. 4, 5, 6 and 9, according to the company.

Those outages only affect the TekSavvy customers whose service relies on the Rogers network. In Toronto, Teksavvy pays both Rogers and Bell to provide the connections between their customers’ homes and TekSavvy’s network, which connects customers to the Internet.

But when it comes to who’s responsible for the problems, TekSavvy and Rogers, can't agree. TekSavvy is pointing to Rogers—and hackers.

Asked about the outages, Rogers told Metro they’re confined to TekSavvy, but Rogers is helping TekSavvy sort it out.

“I am a little bit surprised that they would say that,” responded Bram Abramson, TekSavvy’s chief legal and regulatory officer.

He said at least two of the outages are Rogers’ fault. Rogers denies there is a problem with its network. 

Complicating matters, TekSavvy has been dealing with increased cyber attacks that have played a role in, or caused, at least one of the outages, Abramson said.

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that are increasingly common and easy for inexperienced hackers to employ. Usually TekSavvy can fight them off, but a new twist on the way attacks are launched has been causing problems, Abramson said.

“Not all of this is Roger’s fault,” he said, noting the company has been helping with the recent problems. “Certainly the DDoS attacks are part of it.”

The relationship between small service providers, like TekSavvy, and big telecoms, like Rogers and Bell, divided Toronto City Hall last week.

Mayor John Tory wrote a letter to the CRTC, backing Bell’s efforts prohibit small providers from piggybacking on their new fast fibre network, arguing that's only fair for Bell.

City Council voted instead to back small service providers’ efforts to use the network, saying it’s the only way to increase competition and make Internet service more affordable.

Clarification: A Rogers spokesperson said the Internet problems affected only TekSavvy's customers, Rogers had no problems with its own network, and Rogers helped TekSavvy with the problems. The article has been updated to reflect that change.