Facebook – along with Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp – has been down for more than five hours.
And while social media giant has insisted it is “trying to fix the issue as quick as possible”, there have been no timeframe as to when normal service will resume – or what could be the reason for the massive outage.
In the absence of detailed explanation from Facebook, there has been growing questions about the cause of outage – and if it is malicious or not.
In 2019, details of more than 530 million people were leaked in a database online, largely consisting of mobile numbers, following a hack on Facebook. Earlier this year, a leaked email from the firm suggested the social network expected more such incidents and was planning to frame it as an industry problem that was a normal occurrence.
Read more technology stories here
However, experts believe the outage on October 4, 2021, may have been caused by a technical issue and not a malicious attack.
The reason why this is thought to be the case is because the technology behind the apps was still different enough that one hack was not likely to affect all of them at once.
In a series of tweets, John Graham-Cumming, the chief technology officer of Cloudflare, a web infrastructure company, said the problem was likely with Facebook’s servers, which were not letting people connect to its sites like Instagram and WhatsApp.
Some have spotted that the were “major DNS failures at Facebook” prior to it going down.
DNS—short for Domain Name System—is the service which translates human-readable hostnames (like Facebook.com) to numeric IP addresses.
Cyber experts have pointed out that even though the DNS servers of Facebook seem to have vanished and are no longer connected to the internet, ones for WhatsApp and Instagram can still be reached.
However, they seem to throw other errors, indicating that internally something has gone wrong with Facebook’s servers.
But one expert says outages “can point to a cyber attack”.
Jake Moore, the former head of digital forensics at Dorset Police and now cybersecurity specialist at global cybersecurity firm, ESET told the Independent: “Outages are increasing in volume and can often point towards a cyber-attack, but this can add to the confusion early on when we are diagnosing the causes.
“As we saw with Fastly in the summer, web-blackouts are more often originate from undiscovered software bug or even human error.
“Although these are increasing in frequency and require more failsafes in place, predicting these issues is increasingly more difficult as it was never thought possible before”.
Data on DownDetector’s website showed that almost 50,000 people have reported the outages on Facebook.
Most complaints cited issues with the website (72%), while others were linked to issues with the server connection and the app.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s internal communications platform, Workplace, has also been taken out, leaving most employees unable to do their jobs – or end up having a “snow day”, as some workers described.