Take it From Facebook: You Need a Cybersecurity Action Plan

By | 2021-10-25T08:54:16+00:00 October 20th, 2021|BITS Team, Cyber Security, IT Services|

Picture this:

Years from now, you’re sharing a holiday with your family. After overhearing you reminisce and discuss how unpredictable the beginning of the 2020s was–and hopefully how wonderful the rest of the decade was–a child in the family looks up from their tablet and asks you:

“So, were you there for the great Facebook blackout of October 2021?”

Okay, you got us; we’re exaggerating. A kid wouldn’t ask that, and the chances we will be discussing this month’s six-hour Facebook outage in a decade is improbable. However, any time a significant internet player experiences such a sudden, long-lasting interruption, the situation is ripe for an examination, especially because October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. It’s like they knew!

It also goes to show how quickly the stories (real & fake) will travel, especially if you have an outage. Nobody wants this type of PR!

Why Did Facebook Go Down?

(A) Were the Facebook platform and its owned subsidiaries hacked by an outsider cybersecurity threat?

(B) Was it an inside job due to Facebook’s continued legal and ethical struggles perpetuated by a company whistleblower?

(C) Was it just a stunt to celebrate the coincidence of October as the month dedicated to cybersecurity awareness?

(Spoiler: we think that last one is highly unlikely.)

Here is what we do know, a few weeks after the event:

On Monday, October 4th, 2021, at around noon, the Facebook outage began. Most of the social media juggernaut’s services–including internal company communications and systems–were down due to “networking issues” until approximately 6:08 pm EDT when services finally resumed. Until then, curious internet sleuths–like the team here at Beacon IT Services (BITS)–monitored sites like DNSChecker.org with curiosity, speculating on what caused the tech giant’s DNS routing information to go missing.

The following day, Facebook engineers revealed that a “configuration issue” with their data centers caused their DNS servers to go down. As far as we know, this wasn’t the result of a “hacker,” disgruntled employee, or a strange tribute to National Cybersecurity Month. The issue occurred during the everyday upkeep of the company’s backbone connection between its data centers.

Yep. It was an accident. And frankly, it could happen to anyone.

Facebook was not the only online platform affected. Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and the virtual reality platform Oculus suffered from Facebook’s downtime. As a result, thousands of businesses across these platforms lost advertising revenue over the six-hour outage, which also hurt the businesses that rely on Facebook for advertising and services. The outage had a domino effect that interfered with much more than your ability to scroll through your Facebook timeline.

Coincidentally, the popular live-streaming platform Twitch (owned by Amazon) suffered from a leak of confidential information just days later, on Wednesday, October 6th. How strange that another huge internet presence had a problem on the heels of Facebook’s outage! This time, it wasn’t just an unlucky maintenance accident, but a real breach caused by an outside source.

These incidents demonstrate that the web is constantly bombarded with cybersecurity threats and technical mishaps across all industries and platforms–including the major internet players.

“Whoa, if even Facebook has issues, then my website is doomed!”

You can stop that train of thought right here; there’s no need to panic! Yes, this kind of situation can happen, even to the big players. Of course, prevention is the best medicine, but recovery is what’s critical. How well are you prepared to get your business back online if a cybersecurity attack happens to you? Your preparations now can determine if a future outage will last for minutes, hours, days, or weeks.

What’s the cybersecurity action plan for your business? Is your team ready to jump into the fray and solve the issue at a moment’s notice? Do you need some guidance?

BITS can help with that! Not only can our managed IT services help to mitigate serious security issues from occurring in the first place, but you can count on us to be right there if anything were to happen. We’ve seen, and handled, most every client issue over the years, stemming from servers to intranets and everything in between.

When your web presence is in jeopardy, you want a team on your side with the know-how to get you back online as fast as possible. Discover why BITS provides peace of mind for handling unfortunate maintenance accidents and cybersecurity attacks from malicious sources. Contact us to discuss your IT concerns and let our experts do the heavy lifting to prepare a dependable security foundation for your business.

About the Author:

BITS News
BITS is the IT team you trust to keep your workstations and computer networks protected and running at peak capacity. Quick, responsive and experienced, we make sure our clients stay operational and informed, 24/7. From managed IT services, to threat prevention and data recovery, BITS provides a piece of mind and the technical know-how to keep your business humming.