Online security is a crucial aspect of social media platforms. But recently, this has been thrown into question after millions of users were unable to access social networks such as Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram.

The Recent Breach To Online Security

What happened with Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp?

On Monday 4th October at around 11:40 am Eastern Time, some of the most popular social media apps stopped working and people were unable to contact each other online. Thankfully, this was later resolved close to 11:30 pm.

Facebook engineers had a challenging task to fix the issue due to not being able to use internal tooling.

A new update to the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) records was the cause of this problem as BGP allows networks of addresses to advertise their presence.

Facebook and other platforms use this mechanism to exchange routing information from the internet to the autonomous systems.

Routers are essential for the internet to work efficiently, it contains lists of all the possible routes to where information can travel to, including specific networks. The role of BGP is to guide these internet routers so the internet can work smoothly.

There have been assumptions regarding foul play, however, a human error seems to be the main cause of this online security breach.

Santosh Janardan, the vice president of infrastructure claims the issue derived from a faulty configuration change. He explained how the configuration changes on the backbone routers were a major part of this fault. After all, these routers link network traffic to the datacenters and allow communication.

When network traffic was negatively affected, this had a domino effect on the way the data centers communicate which halted all social media services.

Individuals and businesses around the world rely on these platforms to stay connected. Facebook has since apologised for the catastrophic effect it had on people’s lives. They have pledged to develop a greater understanding of this event and discover innovative ways to improve the strength of their infrastructure.

Social media is a powerful tool that the majority of people rely on in this high-tech age. But, the recent errors are a huge reminder that online security must be improved. Not to mention, the need for more security risk assessments.