Facebook down – weaknesses in our internet

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Facebook follows YouTube outage of 2008

YouTube 2008

As with the 2008 attack on YouTube by a Pakistani ISP, it is clear that there are fundamental problems in eBGP.

These become clear due to the trust relationships of the "autonomous systems" (AS). In the case of Facebook, it is a) poor change management and a simple configuration error of a pushed route in eBGP or b) an insider attack in combination with variant a. 

Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram offline, is that even possible?

On October 04.10.2021th, 17 at approx. 51:XNUMX p.m. German time, Facebook could no longer be found on the Internet. In fact, the DNS servers returned an error.

Cloudflare analyzed this and confirmed the reports on social media that Facebook and its associated services were no longer available.

Border Gateway Protocol

The BGP is a routing protocol that runs in the large routers that make the Internet the Internet. It transmits the information from the autonomous systems such as Facebook, Telekom and Google, which have one or more AS numbers, to other BGP routers so that they know how to reach the systems. 

Facebook Down

A schematic representation of how it can work.

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What happened?

Externally, Facebook no longer attached the routes to their DNS entries. This means that at least the Facebook DNS servers were no longer accessible.

facebook down DNS servers

Cloudflare stores all the BGP updates they get and at 17:40 p.m. a lot of route updates came from Facebook.

facebook down cloudflare

The times in the image are UTC. Cloudflare can distinguish between adding and removing routes and here is the graphic:

facebook down cloudflare

You can see very well that a lot of routes have been removed. With the changes, Facebook has taken itself off the internet. The consequence of this was that the DNS servers could no longer resolve Facebook and its services.

What follows

Due to the fact that the services were no longer available, the DNS requests increased exponentially because you couldn't believe that Facebook was offline. Many apps didn't give any error messages either, so we tried again. The DNS queries were about 30 times higher than normal. Since Facebook was unavailable, there was an increase in inquiries to the other social networks.

facebook down cloudflare

The end

At about 23:20 German time new BGP updates came and Facebook slowly came back online. The services themselves probably took a little longer, but then they made it.

The failure due to a possible configuration error or possible attack is visually clear again on Ripe's BGP Play. Here you can see that shortly before the failure, an eBGP message from the AS 32934 caused the entire AS 32934 to be cut. The AS numbers can be found in the Peering Info of Facebook Inc. under: https://www.facebook.com/peering/.

Link to BGP Play by Ripe

Message from Facebook

In a message it was announced that the outage was due to a faulty change in Facebook's own backend.

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