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Friday, 15 March 2019 05:18

Facebook back online, cause of outage still unknown Featured

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Facebook back online, cause of outage still unknown Pixabay

Social media giant Facebook says it has fixed the problems that led to a major outage of its services — Facebook itself, Messenger and Instagram — on Thursday Australian time.

The company said in a tweet: "Yesterday, as a result of a server configuration change, many people had trouble accessing our apps and services.

"We've now resolved the issues and our systems are recovering. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate everyone’s patience."

One post on the North American Network Operators' Group mailing list said the issue was caused by Facebook pushing an update to its code that manages cookies, that had a rather severe bug in it that resulted in a large flood of requests to their database servers.

"To deal with this load, they had to prevent all writes and then slowly allow people back on," Clinton Mielke said.

Facebook was not specific about the issue that caused the biggest outage the site has experienced, and a network professional has now done a backflip on the explanation he offered on Thursday that the outage was likely to be due to a border gateway protocol routing leak.

Roland Dobbins, principal engineer at application and network performance management products provider NETSCOUT, had said on Thursday: “At approximately 12:52PM EST on 13 March, it appears that an accidental BGP routing leak from a European ISP to a major transit ISP, which was then propagated onwards to some peers and/or downstreams of the transit ISP in question, resulted in perceptible disruption of access to some well-known Internet properties for a short interval."

But he later told Ars Technica reporter Dan Goodin that an "internal miscommunication" had led to PR people sending out the claim about BGP.

Jeroen Wunnink, who works for network service firm GTT, outlined a possible reason why a BGP leak had been advanced as the reason for the Facebook outage.

"The route-leak was something different that seems to have mainly hit west-Europe between 16:52 UTC to 17:08 UTC,." he said in a post to the NANOG mailing list.

"There’s a few people in the *NOG communities still digging at the complete details of that right now, but it currently points to have originated from AS200020, impacting a few large upstreams for a short period of time.

"So unless this leak caused a catastrophic cascade in FB’s network somehow, it seems to be unrelated. It looked like a valid suspect because timing was very similar between the start of the FB outage and the leak."

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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