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Understand why Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were down

 

On Monday (04), Facebook and its subordinates, Instagram and WhatsApp, were unavailable for about six to seven hours and the theories surrounding this fall are many. Without access to social networks, users went to other competing platforms to expel their theories, some well-informed, others that appear to have been created by conspiratorial fake news writers.

One of the theories that tries to explain this phenomenon is based on an article from August 2021, which projects an apocalypse of the global internet due to solar storms. It could be that this apocalypse still happens. However, this is not Facebook’s official justification for the case.

In a statement posted on the Facebook engineers blog, on Monday night (04), Santosh Janardhan, Facebook’s vice president of infrastructure, explains that the drop in services was caused by a poorly studied change in the configuration of internal routers, that manage the communication between services and servers.

“Our engineering teams learned that configuration changes to the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused problems that disrupted that communication. This disruption in network traffic has had a ripple effect on the way our data centers communicate, disrupting our services“, wrote Janardhan.

Janardhan also ensures that the systems crash has nothing to do with cybercriminal attacks and that no user data was compromised during the crash.. “We want to make it clear that there was no malicious activity behind this outage — its root cause was a faulty configuration change on our part. We also have no evidence that user data has been compromised as a result of this downtime.“, concludes the executive.

though Janardhan speak properly, he does not explain the details of the case and still says that the company is working to better understand how all this happened. “We apologize to all those affected and are working to understand more about what happened today so we can continue to make our infrastructure more resilient,” he concludes.

Domains from Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram returned error 5xxx after a request. Photo: The Hack.
Domains from Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram returned error 5xxx after a request. Photo: The Hack.

What do experts say?

Experts heard by the international press believe that the fall was caused by a Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing issue, which returned a Domain Name System (DNS) error for users trying to access both websites and applications dependent on these domains.

BGP are router protocols, used to connect users to the services they want to access. This connection is made through routes, or prefixes. Facebook’s DNS servers use their own prefixes, managed internally by the company itself (instead of contracting outsourced services). When a BGP route is removed, the service is unavailable to any user.

In an interview with BleepingComputer, Giorgio Bonfiglio, technical manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS), explains that although Facebook didn’t provide any details about the case, the massive outage seemed to be related only to the company’s DNS. Nonetheless, the problem turned out to be much more serious and more difficult to fix when they discovered that several of Facebook’s routing prefixes suddenly disappeared from the BGP routing tables from Internet.

After the fall, the facebook domain[.]com has been listed as available for purchase on several domain registrar sites. However, according to journalist Brian Krebs, this is thanks to automated systems that look for domains that appear to be expired or abandoned, but that doesn’t mean that Facebook’s domain can actually be sold.

Domain registration service indicates Facebook[.]com as available for purchase.
Domain registration service indicates Facebook[.]com as available for purchase.

Mark Zuckerberg loses $6 billion

Only just hours after the crash, the equity of Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook dropped by more than $6 billion (£32 billion), which dropped him one spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index’s richest list, giving his place to Bill Gates and taking fifth spot on the list.

However, the press division of the Bloomberg group explains that Zuckerberg’s fall in the billionaire index can also be justified by the testimony of Frances Haugen, former Facebook engineer and data scientist, which revealed to the press that an internal study of the social network identified that Facebook amplifies hatred, misinformation and political chaos in the general population, besides that nothing is done to change this reality.

See Frances Haugen’s interview on 60 Minutes:


Sources: WIRED; Facebook; BleepingComputer; Brian Krebs; Bloomberg; 60 MinutesTheHack.

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