A half day ordeal with the world and Facebook
Facebook was down for 6 hours along with Instagram & WhatsApp. A helpless world turned to Twitter, Signal, Clubhouse, wechat and few other apps. Meantime Facebook took a dip in the stock value by about 4.89% and Zuckerberg lost $7 billion dollars in the first 3 hours.
Prior to the day’s outage, on 4th of October, Monday “60 Minutes” came out with an interview of a Facebook Whistle-blower, Frances Haugen. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Lx5VmAdZSI).
Frances Haugen says in her time with Facebook she saw, "conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook" Scott Pelley reports on CBS news website (https://cbsn.ws/2WLcQK4).
Conversation started flooding platform such as Twitter and Clubhouse with speculations that this could be an External Attack, an Insider Job or Facebook trying the cover up by sweeping sensitive information from its network. Users all across the world were not able to access Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. The browsers returned a message ‘server DNS address could not be found'. DNS stands for Domain Name System. Its basic function is to translate the web address we inquire into IP address.
ARS TECHNICA – a tech news website reports that the problem goes deeper than Facebook's obvious DNS failures, though. Facebook-owned Instagram was also down, and its DNS services—which are hosted on Amazon rather than being internal to Facebook's own network—were functional. Instagram and WhatsApp were reachable but showed HTTP 503 failures (no server is available for the request) instead, an indication that while DNS worked and the services' load balancers were reachable, the application servers that should be feeding the load balancers were not. A bit later, Cloudflare VP Dane Knecht reported that all BGP routes for Facebook had been pulled. (BGP—short for Border Gateway Protocol—is the system by which one network figures out the best route to a different network.) With no BGP routes into Facebook's network, Facebook's own DNS servers would be unreachable—as would the missing application servers for Facebook-owned Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus VR. If the BGP routes for a given network are missing or incorrect, nobody outside that network can find it.
It led to possible speculations that there was an external BGP Hacking. The hacking could be a well-planned and co-ordinated effort. The motive behind the hack could have been either to simply flex muscle or take advantage of the Whistle-blower’s interview with CBS and Shut down Facebook to plumate its stock value and make money out of stock trading. However, on the user side if it was a BGP attack, it still would not have touched any Data and all the user’s data would still be available when it resolves that normally take around 16 hrs at an average.
Most avid users and marketers were however hit hard by the fact that if Facebook internal systems were compromised, there was a great chance that most data would have either been lost or been held hostage for ransom by the attackers. It threw into light an important question that “Should Marketers rely heavily on such social platforms for customers Data, or if they need to setup their own infrastructure for Data Storage”. Most influencers on Clubhouse which included Grant Cardon were more than convinced that a personal data infrastructure is the most secure form of business conduct.
Others on the social space also speculated that Facebook will soon be answering the Congress in few days and that the shutdown was an attempt to sweep clean all sensitive information that would go against itself. On the other hand, it can also be a statement from Zuckerberg that half the world is still dependent on its platform, which leads to the crisis of our times that our dependence on machine may deepen as a part of human civilization.
As the world was conjuring different theories and jumping guns on other platforms, Facebook came back on the world wide web by 3:13 am IST. For the first 10 minutes it had some glitches and bugs. After being refreshed all the other applications associated were up and running. Some predict that it is the beginning of the end of Facebook while others concluded not to rely on any other platforms for Business. However, the reality is that many people across the world has lost business opportunities worth in billions in a matter of few hours. How this will translate in the days to come will have a larger impact on a global scale.
The writer is Head of Digital Marketing WOL Media, Imphal