Facebook takes blame for service outages, which hit wider Web – Reuters

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015

(Adds details on other site outages, security expert comments;
refiled to correct spelling of ‘was’ in first sentence)

By Eric Auchard

FRANKFURT Jan 27 (Reuters) – Access to Facebook, the
world’s largest social network, and its Instagram photo-sharing
site, was blocked around the world for up to an hour on Tuesday,
which the company said later was due to an internal fault and
not an outside attack.

The outage at Facebook, which started around 0600 GMT,
appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to
other major Internet sites, according to web and mobile user
reports from around the globe.

U.S.-based online match-making site Tinder, a unit of
IAC/InterActive Corp, and Hipchat, the workplace
instant- messaging service of Australian enterprise software
company Atlassian, were also down around the same period, but
recovered.

A hacker group associated with other recent high-profile
attacks on other online services sought to claim responsibility
for the outages, but Facebook said the fault was its own.

“This was not the result of a third-party attack but instead
occurred after we introduced a change that affected our
configuration systems,” Facebook said. “Both services are back
to 100 percent for everyone.”

Users in the United States and many countries in Asia and
Europe reported that they were unable to log on to the websites
of Facebook, Instagram and corresponding mobile apps including
Facebook and Facebook Messenger.

During the outages, Facebook users were greeted with the
message: “Sorry, something went wrong. We’re working on it and
we’ll get it fixed as soon as we can.”

“If you run a service with the capacity (and complexity) to
deliver media for hundreds of millions of users, it’s inevitable
that things don’t always go according to plan,” said Steve
Santorelli, a former London police detective and now a
researcher at U.S. threat intelligence firm Team Cymru.

Facebook counted more than 1.35 billion web and 1.12 mobile
phone users on a monthly basis in September, the latest date for
which official figures are available.

Earlier on Tuesday a Twitter account that purports to speak
for hacker group “Lizard Squad” posted messages suggesting that
it was behind an attack that temporarily blocked several major
web sites, including Facebook and Instagram.

The Lizard Squad is a group of unknown hackers that has
taken credit for several high-profile outages, including the
attacks that took down the Sony PlayStation Network
and Microsoft’s Xbox Live network last month.

Santorelli said that attacking Internet sites which operate
at the size and scale of Facebook via a classic distributed
denial of service attack would be a huge undertaking, which,
while not entirely impossible, would be “monumentally hard.”

Denial of service attacks direct thousands of infected
computers under an attacker’s control to ping a site or sites,
thereby slowing or blocking access for regular users.

Such attacks can create congestion on branches of the
Internet where the site is located, slowing Web traffic and
affecting access to unrelated services.

As a precaution, Facebook users are advised to change their
passwords and review their privacy settings, Santorelli said.

(Editing by Louise Heavens and Greg Mahlich)

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