Connect with us

Tech

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp suffer from a major global outage

Published

on

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp suffered from a major global outage that lasted around six hours on Monday 4th October. According to the website monitoring group Downdetector, it was the largest failure it had ever seen, with 10.6 million problem reports globally. The outage started around 3:45 PM GMT and users started to regain partial access around 9:45 PM GMT. Facebook took to Twitter to address its users and confirm the outage. “We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.” the official Twitter account said.

Outages happen all the time for apps and websites but one of a global scale and for this long is rare. This outage was caused by a DNS (domain name server) issue and also affected Oculus, Facebook’s virtual reality platform along with Workplace, its business communication tool. It took time for Facebook to respond to the outage as its own employees also lost access to some of their own tools.

During the outage, if anyone had tried to visit facebook.com, the internet wouldn’t have known where to find facebook.com. Every device that connects to the internet has a unique IP address which other devices use to find any other device on the internet. This IP address is a number such as 172.16.1.1 and memorising numbers for all the websites that humans might need to access would become quite tedious, quite fast. DNS servers exist on the internet to help humans with this as they translate a hostname such as www.facebook.com which is easy for humans to memorise to an IP addresses that a machine can understand.

According to security experts, the evidence pointed to a problem with the company’s own network that cut off Facebook from the internet. “Between 15:50 UTC and 15:52 UTC Facebook and related properties disappeared from the Internet in a flurry of BGP updates.” wrote John Graham-Cumming on Twitter who is Chief Technical Officer at Cloudflare, a networking giant. The updates were Border-Gateway Protocol (BGP) route withdrawals which told the internet that there are no routes into Facebook’s network.

BGP has been around since the dawn of the internet and allows the internet to exchange routing information between different autonomous systems (AS) on the internet. These autonomous systems can be an Internet Service Provider or a corporate network such as one that Facebook has. Think of the BGP protocol as Royal Mail and the different AS’s as different suburban post offices within UK and it becomes easy to understand what BGP does. This routing protocol makes best-path decisions based on different characteristics such as reachability or hop counts etc. These are then configured by a network administrator of an AS. BGP routers maintain a routing table to direct “packets” containing small pieces of information between different routers. BGP routers at the edge of the AS networks advertise to their peers the prefixes of IP addresses that they can deliver to. For the most part, the path chosen is the one with the fewest number of hops. However, due to congestion or delays experienced with previous packets, a longer route may actually be faster. The traffic moves from one AS to another AS until the process is repeated enough times that the data reaches the AS where the destination site is located.

It’s likely a mistake was made internally in a configuration update that went terribly wrong but it could also point to malicious activity. A Reddit thread from an alleged Facebook employee that is now deleted suggested problems with a BGP configuration error. A few minutes after the BGP routes disappeared, internet traffic could not reach Facebook and users around the world began to experience issues accessing Facebook services.

Facebook has already experienced similar outages with its apps this year in March and July. Facebook boasts 2.9 billion monthly active users but has had a torrid time recently following a whistle-blower report in The Wall Street Journal. To add to its woes, this outage has sent its stock tumbling further and was 5.3% down in the afternoon trading on Monday. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tech

Can Tech help you manage your mood? – In-Focus

Can technology help you manage your mood?
Managing mental health has become even more crucial after recent lockdowns have forced our societies into introspection. Our mood can fluctuate by the day, hour, or even minute. Technology sometimes gets the blame for contributing to our mental health imbalance but is there a role for technology to play in helping manage mental health and mood as well? Join us as we bring this issue In Focus!

Discover more at https://analystnews.com

Follow us @AnalystDaily on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Published

on

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Health

Facebook’s internal research on Instagram reports detrimental mental health effects on teens

Published

on

The humble origins of the internet bridged a much-needed gap in networking and communications. It established a means for collaboration and interaction between individuals and computers independent of location. This simple tool revolutionised not only how we access and consume data, but it has also had major influences on our social behaviour through the development of social media sites.

One of the most used social media sites is Facebook, through which the evolution of ever more engaging and interactive social media apps such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok have come into inception. Whilst there are many benefits of social media, such as sharing ideas, connecting with family abroad and promoting business, there are concerns about its long-term effects on human psychology. Recent research reveals the potential risks social media carries in facilitating the development of addictive behaviours, especially among the young. Companies need to do more to address these concerns and find solutions to tackle these growing issues, but are they doing enough?   

Last month The Wall Street Journal published leaked reports of Facebook’s internal research into the mental health impact of Instagram on teens. Reports unsurprisingly revealed that Instagram has been negatively impacting the youth’s mental health, particularly that of young teenage girls. Instagram is the second most popular social media app after Facebook in the US and increasingly attracts the attention of the younger population. However, Facebook denies The Wall Street Journal’s interpretation of its internal research and labels it as “not accurate” and limited. Facebook’s UX research team have felt that they are downplaying the reports as well as undermining their employee’s ability to do their job properly.

The detrimental effect social media is having on young minds is not novel as recent research has reported similar conclusions. An article from The Wall Street Journal tells the story of a young Anastasia Vlasova’s development of an eating disorder, influenced through making unhealthy comparisons with herself and the images promoted to her of toned bodies, unrealistic beauty standards and lifestyles. A further study entitled ‘The impact of social media use on appearance self-esteem from childhood to adolescence’ was published this year. It discovered that social media users who view content more – as opposed to posting their pictures online – are more likely to experience low self-esteem. This directly compares to users who post more pictures of themselves and thus are recipients of positive feedback in the form of ‘likes’ which enhances their self-esteem. However, neither ends of the spectrum have a positive effect on the long-term mental health of teens and young adults. Although posting images of oneself may enhance the user’s self-esteem and confidence through likes, the direct association between the two can also act as a double-edged sword whereby it can trigger the brain’s reward system and develop addictive behaviours.

Another major concern for the youth is the regulation of social media content. Content viewed is the outcome of machine learning algorithms which form the underlying framework of how social media app’s function. These algorithms are programmed to collect data on user activity and identify their search patterns to tailor a more personalised experience towards them and ultimately increase user engagement. Increased engagement with certain types of content can also cause users to become entrapped into ‘social media bubbles’ where they are exposed to more polarized content which may either be harmful or beneficial. It has been established that the adolescent brain tends to be more vulnerable to developing addictions, therefore additional protection is needed on apps like Instagram where nearly “ two-thirds of its users are aged between 18-29” and 72% of users in the US are 13–17-year-olds. These concerns have additionally been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen a rise in social media usage worldwide

Companies have done little to nothing to address these major causes for concern. Recent efforts were underway by Instagram to develop an “Instagram Kids”, a service for children aged 13 years old and younger – but recent reports tell us that they are pausing development of that feature and placing emphasis on parental supervision. In a recent interview with 60 Minutes Frances Haugen – the Facebook whistle-blower who leaked the reports to The Wall Street Journal suggested Facebook was aware of the negative mental health effects on teens but continuously chose to prioritise the optimization of their financial interests

Tackling these issues requires collective and collaborative effort and should not rely solely on parental supervision. Facebook needs to put morality over profits. If profits are an issue, they should invest in the development of new money-making models that protect vulnerable people. Governments also need to do more by implementing legislation which protects the interests of the public and safeguards the mental health of vulnerable people and children from ill effects of social media. Schools can also play a key role in spreading awareness about these issues and promoting students to adopt a healthy balance between social media usage and recreational activities.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Tech

Twitch hit by massive data breach

Published

on

It seems that configuration errors are having their moment in the internet sun. A day after Facebook’s six-hour long outage that blocked its users from accessing Facebook’s services was caused by an erroneous configuration change during routine maintenance, Twitch which is a live-streaming platform owned by Amazon.com Inc has suffered a similar fate

Due to an error in the server configuration change, about 125 gigabytes of data was exposed to the internet including source code repositories and creator payout information. Twitch confirmed the data breach in a tweet on Wednesday. “We can confirm a breach has taken place. Our teams are working with urgency to understand the extent of this. We will update the community as soon as additional information is available,” the tweet read. 

According to Twitch which has over 30 million average daily visitors, there was no indication that the login credentials of its users have been exposed. Twitch also does not store full credit card details. It is however unclear just how much data has been stolen. The leaker labelled the data cache as “part one” which suggests that the leakers might be sitting on more data. The leaker seems to have been focused on exposing Twitch’s own company tools and information as the motive seems to have been to “foster more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space”. 

According to the leaker’s post, the leak includes the following:

  • Entirety of twitch.tv with commit history going back to its early beginnings
  • Source code for the Mobile, desktop and video game console Twitch clients
  • Various proprietary SDKs and internal AWS services used by Twitch
  • Data on properties that Twitch owns including IGDB and CurseForge.
  • An unreleased Steam competitor from Amazon Game Studios
  • Twitch’s internal tools.
  • Creator payout reports from 2019 until now.

While the loss of personal data of creators would be a nightmare for Twitch to deal with, an even bigger issue is that now the source code is now available to the internet and that could lead to further security issues down the line. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Tech

Tesla production increases in third quarter

Published

on

Elon Musk has been making headlines in the past few years for numerous reasons and this time it’s due to the exciting increase in the production of electric cars. 

According to the chief executive Elon Musk, as of 2nd October 2021, Tesla has delivered a record number of electric cars in the third quarter. This is a new milestone for the company surpassing the expectations of Wall Street reaching an increase in the total overall production reaching 15% in the third quarter. 

Approximately 241, 300 cars have been delivered across the globe, about 73% more than the previous year. The growth in exports can be attributed to the introduction of the cheaper model of the car. Exports to Europe of the cheaper model were popular and China has also become a top buyer. 

China is the world’s largest market for cars and Tesla has been pushing forward its electric cars into the country. “We believe, given the underlying strength we are picking up in China, as well as a late push in Europe and the U.S., that 190,000 to 200,000 is well within reach,” says analyst Dan Ives.

Having faced many hurdles and production difficulties in its early years, Tesla is finally reaching its goals at a rapid pace. Whilst the pandemic was a setback for many businesses, it appears it was the time Tesla needed to strategise and escalate the production of its vehicles. Tesla’s revenues have increased by 28.3% since 2020 and with its current growth rate, the Tesla dream is only edging closer to reality. 

With systems of autopilot and fully self-driving cars on the table, Tesla is planning to launch upgrades for its current self-driving software. It is likely this will come with additional costs for drivers who already own Tesla vehicles. But the main concern is the safety of drivers that is under severe criticism from authorities who believe Tesla has not yet met the highest of safety standards. Hence, speculations are abundant with the question of when the perfect fully self-driving hit the road?

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Tech

Data privacy: A right or infringement of freedom?

Published

on

We are living in an age of technology where most of our personal information is online. Many of us do not even realise the extent of data security challenges. We see so many privacy notices even when we simply browse through various websites or sign up for a simple day to day app. We are asked to agree to privacy policies of the vendor by a mere click of the mouse while we are in a hurry to complete the download.

Data privacy and protection has always been very important. However, with the increasing reliance on technology for literally everything, the importance of data privacy and protection for all stakeholders and the consumers cannot be overemphasised. 

Data security refers to ensuring that no unauthorised access to the data is made. When unauthorised access is attempted or made, remedies to address this situation are covered under data protection.

Data privacy is needed at every step. How the data is collected, stored, shared with other parties and what are the regulatory requirements to safeguard the data, are important factors to ensure we as consumers are protected. To achieve this, around the world various laws and regulations exist and more have been promulgated over the last many years.  

Data protection policy can use a prescriptive vs outcome based approach. For the Prescriptive approach, a good example is General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) where a set of guidelines are prescribed and their compliance is expected. Outcome based approach refers to overseeing the data protection practices used by a company and then evaluating how good it worked. 

One of the most comprehensive regulations on the subject of data security and protection is the GDPR by the European Union. There are also dedicated bodies like the European Data Protection Board and Data Protection Authorities in EU member states. Although GDPR is very detailed in nature, it primarily emphasises explicit consent before collection of data, allowing an option for the consumer to revoke their consent, and even require their data to be forgotten and can request a copy of the data. The highlight of GDPR is that it is based on the recognition of data privacy as a fundamental human right. It provides a broader umbrella of law for EU member countries. 

Situation is quite different in the US. Instead of approaching privacy as a fundamental right, focus is more on the protection of data once it’s collected. Some even argue that data is more easily available for profit rather than for government and for the uses people would not want it to be used. Although in the US Constitution there is no specific mention of data privacy, the courts have interpreted that constitution along with the Bill of Rights to ensure protection of everyone’s rights. However, in many cases it’s considered limited to protections related to data collected by the government.  

The Privacy Act of 1974 offers protection to the information collected by federal agencies.  Since in the US there is not a single comprehensive data privacy law for everyone, there are different regulations based on the State or sector. HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is one of them that protects patient’s data and health information shared with health professionals. 

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act 1999 is another such example through which consumers’ non-public privacy information is collected for its use in the financial industry. To safeguard interest of minors, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act 2000 was the first step at regulating the collection of personal information from them.

The Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 is a law which keeps a check on companies from engaging in “unfair or deceptive acts or practices”. This law has been used for enforcement actions where companies are found violating their privacy policy announcements or collecting information through unfair practices and where they do not protect unauthorised access to the collected data. However, it does not authorise the regulatory body to make policies and practices and require companies to comply. If a company has no clearly defined and announced policy on data privacy and protection, they cannot be held responsible under this law as there is no deception practiced. 

Despite these laws and regulations, there are gaps, grey areas and absence of a comprehensive law leads to loopholes. There is added financial and operational cost of compliance when companies have to ensure compliance with so many different requirements.  

In the US, data privacy is not recognised as a fundamental right given free speech rights. Some states have enacted comprehensive consumer data privacy laws in the US. More and more states are bringing laws about data protection. More than 120 countries around the world have data primacy laws.  

The Californian Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the Massachusetts Data Protection Act are two strong examples. There are some common points between CCPA and GDPR as both provide consumers the right to access, the right to delete, and the right to opt-out of processing at any time. However, there are some points of difference. CCPA does not allow consumers a right to correct or rectify incorrect personal data while the GDPR does. CCPA does not require explicit consent; rather only a privacy notice is made available on the website informing consumers they have a right to opt-out of certain data collection whereas GDPR provides this right. 

Source: Complete Guide to Privacy Laws in the US

In the US a need is felt to harmonise the state and federal laws to remove redundancies. There should be institutional protection and layers of protection so the loopholes can be avoided. 

It is more important that individuals around the world are provided more information, better choices and control to explicitly allow companies if they can collect, store, and use their personal data. 

There should be incentives for data privacy and protection compliant companies. 

International economic organisations have introduced data privacy guidelines to regulate the transfer of personal data across borders. Such examples include Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. However it is important to remember that companies should ensure they have their own stringent policies which ensure compliance with laws in the home country as well as the foreign markets where they operate. More and more countries have adopted their own data protection laws and free heavens are disappearing. China has recently issued a very comprehensive data protection law which is geared towards enhancing protection for its citizens. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Tech

Robots: Will they take over your job? – In Focus

There is a new potential threat that you may or may not know about. Are robots after your job? How likely is it that you’ll be replaced by a machine in the next decade? From autonomous cars to self-checkouts. We bring this potential threat ‘In Focus’

Published

on

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Continue Reading

Recent Comments

Articles