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10 months 1 week ago

If you were with us yesterday, and you weren't asleep from 6 p.m. until 1 a.m., you certainly felt lonely without Facebook, and its various services like Instagram and WhatsApp.

Yet, we don't know exactly why this massive outage happened, and Facebook hasn't confirmed or denied anything, but at least we have some information about how it happened.

Was it a 13-year-old Chinese hacker? Is this the end of the world and the Internet?

Well, what exactly happened to Facebook? Let's see!

Kentik, a network watchdog company in San Francisco, reported that at 05:39 pm Cairo time on Monday, 4 October, someone inside Facebook updated the records of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), and that's where they started.

Surely you've passed by the term Domain Name System, or DNS, which can be described as an Internet address book, and its role is to translate the names of the sites you write in the browser URL into IP addresses, and those addresses can be considered the home where those websites live.

DNS problems are common and widespread, and are often the cause of interrupt or downfall from a particular web site. They might occur because of various types of technical reasons, often related to errors and problems with settings, but most of the time they are relatively obvious and can be solved quickly. But what happened on Facebook yesterday was more serious.

The main problem is that Facebook has withdrawn the basic digital records of border guidance protocols (BGP) that contain IP addresses for DNS domain names.

If the DNS is an Internet address book, the BGP protocol is a navigation system, which determines how the data goes and which route it takes, while traveling from your device to access the server of different sites.

These basic digital records can simply be considered to act as Google GPS maps, but for computers and other Internet - related devices, those records tell the devices how to find Facebook's website.

In a simpler sense, when you're looking for a Facebook address in your browser, the records tell your device where to look for a company server, and when it reaches that server, it shows you the Facebook access page.

What happened is that those records suddenly disappeared, as if someone burned all those maps, so your device, your smartphone and anything connected to the Internet couldn't find Facebook.

The problem is not in the device or phone, the problem here is more complicated, because Facebook literally disappeared from the web. It was all dark, so it's hidden from the eyes of the devices on the Internet!

Of course, with the disappearance of Facebook came the disappearance of other services, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and Instagram. And that left billions of users without any social networking, like we were back in time for 20 years.

The biggest problem is that this outage did not affect Facebook & its usual services, but also infected Facebook internal tools that employees use to work and communicate with each other. This is because e-mail and platform tools are all managed from within the company, across the same ranges that have disappeared from the entire Internet. The disruption of all these tools led the team to use external tools to complete their work, but the main problem remained unresolved.

It's expected that these changes came from inside the company, because Facebook controls these records internally, and something went wrong that caused the maps that we talked about to be erased, causing the disruption.

There was such a problem last year, and we saw a number of these big breaks for Facebook and its diverse services, because they had some kind of settings update for their global network that was derailed as well, but then it didn't take long. Most experts also expect this time to be the ones to do so, but it has worsened uncontrollably.

What made the problem even worse, they lost their ability to access the company's servers on the web, because it disappeared as we explained, so it became imperative that they go to the company's own headquarters, and solve the problem manually from the inside. But apparently those there didn't have enough knowledge of how to solve that problem, and they had to wait for some experts to solve it.

Facebook employees also faced trouble in accessing the company's premises, because the employees' access cards were disrupted by the system, and Facebook engineers had trouble accessing the company's servers inside to upload new BGP records to the Internet. It is one of the main reasons for the continuation of this massive break for six full hours. By 12 a.m., Facebook services were gradually returning.

It's not about the dramatic story of how the entire Internet collapses and falls, or about the hacker of a 13-year-old Chinese hacker, or about such theories that are currently spreading, but more about one system that is huge and interconnected, and maybe the system collapses like anything else because of some technical or human error, and we may not always feel such problems because there are people watching the situation day and night, but when more than one problem comes together.

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