octobre 25, 2021

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Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Vodafone and blackouts: everything we know so far

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp platforms crashed across swathes of the world on Monday in one of the longest outages the social media giant has ever faced.

The internal facebook systems used by employees and other apps such as Messenger and Facebook Workplace were also down.

The issue also appears to be affecting internet services for customers of both Eir and Vodafone Ireland on Monday night, as well as many other mobile networks globally.

Vodafone confirmed that its data network performance was affected while an Eir spokesperson said the company found no errors at the end of the following checks. Several Eir customers experienced an outage on Monday evening and their tech helpline had an automated message confirming there were problems for customers calling a “global outage” but this has since been removed.

Here is everything we know so far.

What happened?

Users of Facebook and its other apps first noticed the outage around 4.30pm on Monday as websites could not be found and mobile feeds failed to load. WhatsApp users got the download wheel and the connection message but could not access the new messages.

Independent.ie was unable to immediately confirm the issue affecting the services, but the error message on Facebook’s web page suggested there was a problem with the Domain Name System (DNS). DNS allows web addresses to transport users to their destinations. A similar outage at cloud company Akamai Technologies Inc led to the shutdown of multiple websites in July.

How did this happen?

Security experts tracking the situation said the outage could be caused by a configuration error, which could be the result of an internal error, although sabotage by an insider would theoretically be possible.

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An outside attack is seen as less likely as a massive denial of service (DoS) attack that could overwhelm one of the world’s most famous sites, and requires either coordination between powerful criminal groups or a highly innovative approach.

The company said it was aware that “some people were having trouble accessing (the) Facebook app” and was working to restore access.

Regarding the internal failure, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, tweeted that it sounds like a “snowy day.”

Doug Madhuri, director of internet analysis at Kentik Inc, said it appears that the pathways that Facebook advertises online that tell the entire internet how to access its properties are lacking.

Madhuri said it appears that the DNS paths that Facebook makes available to the networking world have been pulled. The Domain Name System is an essential component of how traffic is directed on the Internet. DNS translates an address like “facebook.com” to an IP address like 123.45.67.890. If your Facebook DNS records are gone, no one will be able to find them.

Why are mobile service providers affected by Facebook outages?

It’s not clear, but this evening Vodafone Ireland posted a message confirming that the social media outage also affected “data network performance”. Many Vodafone users have also experienced internet outages in their homes.

Eir was also affected by the outage as an automated message on its tech helpline confirmed that its services to many customers had been disrupted due to the global outage on several social media platforms. Then, an Eir spokesperson said after several checks by the Eir team, no errors were found on its end.

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It is possible that carriers will share servers with the tech giants affected this afternoon.

Meanwhile, Twitter logged in from the company’s main Twitter account, posting a “literally hello everyone” as the platform was flooded with jokes and memos about the Facebook outage.

With additional reporting from The Associated Press and Reuters.